In May, President Obama nominated Tom Wheeler to become the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). While he has yet to be formally confirmed by the Senate, he did breeze through a confirmation hearing by a “generally welcoming” Senate Commerce Committee in June, and his nomination has broad support.
It also turns out he has—or, at least, had—opinions about the administration’s space policy. In a May 2010 blog post, Wheeler, working in the private sector at the time, said the “Space Program” (as he capitalized it) was going through an “analog to digital conversion” analogous to what the telecommunications industry experienced in the past. His reference was not to specific technologies but instead models of doing business and innovation: a shift from a centralized to distributed approach.
“NASA was the Bell Labs of Space,” he wrote. “Like Bell Labs they delivered important innovations and added to our national pride. To continue a 20th Century command-and-control model in an era of distributed development is not in the best interest of NASA, however.”