Planetary Radio • Feb 03, 2023

Space Policy Edition: The White House's Matt Daniels on the U.S.'s New Cislunar Strategy

Please accept marketing-cookies to listen to this podcast.

Download MP3

On This Episode

Matthew daniels portrait

Matthew Daniels

Assistant Director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy for Space Security and Special Projects

Casey dreier tps mars

Casey Dreier

Chief of Space Policy for The Planetary Society

Sarah al ahmed headshot

Sarah Al-Ahmed

Planetary Radio Host and Producer for The Planetary Society

For the first time in history, the White House laid out a national policy for science and technology in the vast expanse of cislunar space. This policy is not just for NASA — it's an all-of-government approach to establish the infrastructure and capabilities to enable a multitude of national and private actors to reach for the Moon and its environs. Dr. Matt Daniels of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy chaired the group that defined this new strategy; he joins the show to discuss the strategy, its ambitions, and implications for the future of lunar exploration and development.

Full Moon from the ISS
Full Moon from the ISS This photo of the full Moon was taken from the International Space Station as it flew more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) above the Pacific Ocean.Image: NASA


Sarah Al-Ahmed: Welcome everybody to our monthly space policy edition of Planetary Radio. It's wonderful to have you all with us. I'm Sarah Al-Ahmed, the host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society, and I am joined by Casey Dreier, our chief of Space Policy. Hi, Casey.

Casey Dreier: Hey, Sarah. Happy to be back on our second show.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: I know, right? And what an interesting start to the year for the US Congress.

Casey Dreier: Yeah, that's a diplomatic way to put it.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Right? I'm sure it'll have all kinds of interesting impacts on space policy going forward. But before we get into any of that, who's going to be our guest this month, Casey?

Casey Dreier: We have Matt Daniels who's an assistant director at the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. It's basically the part of the White House that sets all national policy to the president about what we try to invest in, where we try to go and how we try to do it in regards to science and space. They have a brand-new national strategy out that I think is really important from a really big sense because it's not about anything on earth, it's about a national cislunar science and technology strategy. This is the first time really thinking about laying a foundation for long-term presence, infrastructure, scientific and technology goals for the space between the earth and the moon and the surface of the moon and a little bit even beyond. It's big and ambitious, but also the first time we've seen something like that. So Matt Daniels helped chair the group that wrote this new report and he joins me from the White House to talk about the report itself, the strategy, why they did it and what's inside it.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, that's exciting to have someone straight from the White House talking to us on these things and really cool to have this whole new cislunar strategy. I know that it kind of covers the United States plans for cislunar space and a little bit of the foundation for how we want to incorporate other nations into this strategy. But does it also touch a little bit on commercial cislunar missions?

Casey Dreier: It does in an oblique sense. You can really think about this strategy in that it's the United States formally saying that the country is going to be investing in establishing these long-term, not just goals, but investments in the space between the earth and the moon. And to the extent that it touches on commercial operations, it's saying to commercial companies, "We're going to be working with you to define standards and operations, standards and communications, standards and navigation and tracking," really basic stuff that we otherwise take for granted. We assume every highway is standardized, so commercial shipping companies can drive on them with the same truck. We assume that GPS has a standard that our phones and any other piece of technology can tap into the same way and this is what they want to extend out to space. So it's trying to create these basic levels of infrastructure in order to enable a variety of companies, organizations, private actors and nations to establish themselves. Matt puts us in a way of saying lower the barrier of going to the moon, and that's what the United States is aiming to do with its international partners in this.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: That's really exciting. I'm glad that we're finally formalizing this strategy and I'm excited about what that means for the future. The more we can cooperate on these things, the more space missions we can get out there and it's an exciting time.

Casey Dreier: It's one of those things where I kind of laugh. It's like rarely does reading a White House policy document give me tingles, but this kind of gives me tingles, right? And it's so practical, but also so ambitious, and we get into this in the discussion, me and Matt, but again, it represents this huge stepping point, this turning point where we are really considering that it's not just Earth is something that the United States is going to have a policy, and again, its partners are going to have kind of formal policies governing. We're really turning outwards and we're really, this didn't happen during Apollo when we were actively sending people there. We did not have a national strategy with the moon. Now, we do. The implications of this are grand to me, and it's a start, and Matt will tell you from this working group, this is the starting point of what they hope to be many more advances and overall integrated approach and strategies about how the US and its international partners and this coalition of private companies and others start to expand human presence beyond Earth in perpetuity.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, that's really exciting and if anybody out there is listening and wants to help support the work that we're doing here to advocate for space missions and all of our work with key decision-making bodies that shape these space strategies, please consider joining The Planetary Society. You can go to and your support funds all of our space advocacy work, and it's a good time to do so because we're actually hiring a new person to join our space policy staff. Can you tell us a little bit about our new director of government relations, Casey?

Casey Dreier: Sarah, I'd be delighted to. I'm very excited about this. I'd like to welcome Jack Kiraly who'll be joining us this month at The Planetary Society. We've restructured our whole strategy here a bit, but we're committed to having permanent presence in Washington DC as one of the preeminent and focused efforts from any space advocacy group and really the truly independent space advocacy group that we depend on to just emphasize what you're saying, our members to support us. We don't take money from big corporate coffers. We don't take money from big government efforts, and that allows us to care about these things that we care about. Jack is going to be there every day working for you, working for me, working with me, because I'm also a member, I should say, of The Planetary Society out in DC. So he's very exciting. He's been a volunteer with us for 10 years actually, so he's already really committed. He's got a master's degree in public policy with a focus on space and science and technology issues from American University. He's been doing a lot of electoral politics. So he's great organizing ability and I'm really excited to see what he's going to do to help bring our members into DC and to get us more opportunities to engage with members of Congress to really represent us well, Sarah, you met him briefly when he was out visiting, right?

Sarah Al-Ahmed: I did, yeah. I got to meet him just for a short time, but he was wonderful, just really personable. I know he's going to be very successful in having these conversations for us in DC.

Casey Dreier: Jack is great because he's highly motivated, highly capable, but also as you point out, just earnestly passionate about space, like all of us, and to me, that's just a perfect combination for what we want as the representative of The Planetary Society in Washington DC. So I'm sure you will hear Jack in future episodes coming on to join me and talk about what he's doing in Washington DC. But until then, just very excited to announce that he'll be joining us this month. This February will be starting very soon after the release of this episode.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: That's so exciting to have him on. I'm just so happy to have one more person on this team to help us because having that permanent presence in DC, it's just so important to what we do in space advocacy. So that's going to be awesome.

Casey Dreier: 80% of life is showing up and he's going to be the person showing up for us.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Of course, the people he's going to be talking to are the ones that are just now recently getting put into these new science committees, and there's a lot of shifting sands going on over there. Can you tell us a little bit about who's been appointed to these science committees?

Casey Dreier: So just as a quick refresher, the new Congress began January 3rd, just about a month ago from when this episode comes out, and it takes a little while to get spun up this year, even a little longer with the Republican majority taking its time to choose its speaker and not much else. Actually, the House of Representatives can't really do much without a speaker now. They can't even swear in the rest of the members until they had a speaker. So they're a little late getting into it, but they're ramping up now. And part of this ramp up process is that all these different committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate, they have to choose their membership. And it's a complicated process, and each party, Democrats and Republicans has a slightly different way of assigning members to committees that we will not go in. That's even too wonky for me for this episode, but it's a process and it depends on kind of hierarchy and how long people have been there and so forth and so on. So it takes a bit, but we're starting to see the outcomes now. It takes about a month, and we've seen now the Republican and Democratic members now announced for the House Science Committee. This is the oversight committee that oversees NASA among other science agencies in the US government, and also writes the NASA authorization legislation that sets broad policy and funding recommendations. We're seeing those flesh out together. There's a lot of new faces coming, and then we've seen, not the membership yet, but the leadership of probably the most important aspect of NASA, which is getting the money, the No Bucks, No Buck Rogers. And we're seeing Hal Rogers, who's from Kentucky, reassuming the chairmanship of what's called The Commerce Justice and Science Subcommittee of Appropriations. And this is interesting. This is the first time in a long while actually, Robert Aderholt had been ranking member from Alabama. Hal Rogers is from Kentucky, not a big NASA state, not a lot of NASA centers in Kentucky. So this is the first time in a while that NASA and also on the Senate side with a departure, Richard Shelby from Alabama, it's now being led by Patty Murray, my senator here in Washington State. And it's really the first time in, I think 10 to 15 years, have to double check, that NASA has not been represented at the leadership level of the appropriations committees. So a little kind of pulling my collar a little bit on my neck, we'll have to, it's a lot. We just don't have the clear parochial connection in the way that Richard Shelby Alabama cared about NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. We don't have that clear connection to make. We have to make a broader and more strategic connection. This is what Jack and I will be working on this year, but it's a shift and this is just what you have to do. Things change over time, but in order to keep NASA growing, we need to make these connections. So this will be occupying quite a bit of our time. Now we know who the key individuals are going to be on these committees that are really relevant to the outcomes we want.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: I've wondered in the past, how do you go about making these connections with them? Do you just email them up and be like, "Hey, do you want to talk?"

Casey Dreier: Sometimes. Sometimes, yeah. So it depends on, this is Jack's specialty, and a lot of it is, again, literally just showing up. You go to events of space, people in Washington DC you can cold call and show up at their office. You start meeting with people, and this is Jack's specialty, and this is something that he has really demonstrated proficiency over in the past, and that's something that we'll be really excited when we hired him that he has been dropped into situations where he has no nobody and then made good friends and connections and valuable engagements with people within months. And so a lot of it is you have to start participating in the community. You start meeting with people, you start talking about them. And the key actually that we use in our great advantage here at The Planetary Society is that we have members all over the country. And so we can always establish that we have constituents, and that tends to be the key. If you don't know somebody, you can say, "Look, I have a constituent here who's a member of The Planetary Society, or we have this many members in your district. Can we talk to you?" And that's the magic. That's your open sesame of getting into a congressional office is having that constituent connection. And then we also have our members of our board of directors and our advisory committees that just kind of more and more people we can use to make this constituent connection. And that's really kind of the opening salvo. And then once you establish that connection, you start being friendly as key for us as obviously like we are not just there to lobby them with things that we need. We try to be helpful to them if they have questions about space policy, if they have questions about the budget, they're doing lots of different things. We specialize in space and we don't get any financial benefit from our outcomes. So that gives us a little extra bit of heft. And because of that, we try to keep our value to them as not just coming in with problems, but giving solutions, giving help, giving perspective and opinions that help them make better decisions themselves. And that's really kind of, again, this multifaceted effort to make these ongoing connections with the broader community to help make NASA relevant, help it make it exciting, and also just give them an understanding even sometimes what we do, what could be done. And that really sometimes will capture their imaginations.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Absolutely. Especially once you establish just how much impact space industries have on all of these different states and their economies. By putting in the context of what's good for them and their constituents, we can all kind of come around to this partnership on this, which is fantastic because in the end, space brings out the best in us, and it's something we can all really be proud to work on together instead of other more contentious topics. It's a good way to get in there.

Casey Dreier: Yes, that's a absolutely right. And again, these are people at the end of the day, not just despite what we watch on TV on Veep or House of Cards or something, they tend to be very earnest. Most of them tend to be very earnest committed individuals who work really hard for not a lot of pay and a weird hours in a very difficult environment. And if we can bring them, this is, I always think, I always keep going back to this Carl Sagan's word that I love so much, numinosity, the numinous, this feeling of being next to something bigger than yourselves, that's a transcendent feeling. And the opportunity to walk into someone's office who've just spent the day doing, I don't know, spectrum communication, contentious policy or budget cutting stuff or whatever kind of contentious issue of the day is you can come in and say, "Hey, you want to talk about something that elevates your spirit?Buy something that we do." That's not just a feel good thing, that really gives them a break. And we're connecting with something grand and big and positive, and that makes a difference to them as people. And so this is what Jack gets, right? And this is what I was looking for when we were going through this hiring process, but Jack really gets this passion and understands that connection, that human connection, that numinosity is the ace up our sleeve in terms of how we engage and pitch this as not just why we need to do this, but these are these benefits and opportunities. And even just making someone's day a little better, you've just created a little more happiness in the world. That's not a bad outcome at the end of the day.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Absolutely. In the end, it's kind of like you've got a really fun job and I'm excited for all the cool adventures that you and Jack are going to get into all the new connections we're going to make and all the fun things that are going to come out of it. Well, I'm sure we'll hear more of it in upcoming episodes of Space Policy edition.

Casey Dreier: Absolutely.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: But I know we've got this wonderful conversation to get into with Matt Daniels right now. Is there anything else you want to share before we dive right in?

Casey Dreier: I'll just point out that we will link to the national cislunar strategy in the show notes to this episode. So feel free to read it. It's actually not that long. I think it's quite readable. And we'll link to some other things that we talk about. And again, if we use some OSTPs, we'll use that a lot. That's just the Office of Science and Technology Policy. And we're really, again, talking about this function of the administrative branch of the US government setting this official policy. And what's exciting to me is that this, and we talk about this at the end, will trickle down to all other federal agencies. This will be part of their charge to respond to this. So it's a very exciting thing and again, readable thing. And again, the more that we can support this type of thoughtful work, the more I think this is normalized as this expected role of government is to think about how we go out. Again, not just for pure exploration, but to kind of make this broad all of government awareness of the importance and value of the space around us.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: We'll make sure to put that document up on our website at Thanks so much, Casey. Let's dive in.

Casey Dreier: Let's do it. Matt Daniels from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House. Welcome to the Space Policy Edition. Thank you for being here.

Matt Daniels: Thank you for having me.

Casey Dreier: Well, we're here to talk about this national cislunar policy and this is something that you helped chair this meeting of and then produce this eventual strategy and policy for the US government. And obviously looking forward to diving deep into this, but just big picture, if you had to summarize within about a minute or so to somebody, what is our now national cislunar strategy?

Matt Daniels: It's recognizing that the decade ahead is really important. The US government, a handful of other countries and a bunch of private entities are all planning to send spacecraft to the moon and to land on the moon. And the next decade, NASA's been estimating that over the next 10 years, human activity in this region of space is going to be at kind of the highest point that has been since the space age began. And so we think it's not too early to start thinking about how we are going to grow and do new things in this region of space. And a big part of that that is making sure that we convene the scientific community in the United States to get all the things that we want to work on in one place. I would say for example, NASA has a lot of activities that they're focused on with the Artemis program. But when you bring the rest of the US government together, you find for example that the National Science Foundation, which operates telescopes on the earth surface, NASA does space telescopes, MSF does them on the earth surface, is very concerned about the shielded zone of the moon and the radio quiet environment on the lunar far side and making sure that we don't ruin that environment for the long term. It's not too early to start thinking about all of these things. And that by doing so early and looking ahead at this, we can approach it from a sense of optimism. We can approach it with a sense of we can build positive futures, we can anticipate and solve problems. So let's look ahead and think about this concretely, the center strategy has various parts that follow on that theme about what we should do in terms of research and development, new international cooperation, the fact that space situational awareness is kind of the foundation for everything else operationally. So if you want to predict conjunctions with two satellites, in this case orbiting the moon are going to pass close to each other, you need SSA to be able to see that in advance. And then there's a set of essentially information infrastructure that we can start to anticipate needing in the years ahead, like communications from the entire region around the moon and being able to know where you are and what time it is on the moon and near the moon. So we put those issues together and connect them to the future that we want to build, which is a peaceful, cooperative, exciting future and get that into one document.

Casey Dreier: So there's a million things I want to branch off from that, but that's a good summary I think. And the way that I would take away this is that in a sense this is an umbrella policy for all of government, not just NASA, I think is most people are used to thinking about space, they thinking about NASA. You've brought up a couple of agencies already that may have interest here. And so this is directing kind of a broad all government approach to the cislunar space, right?

Matt Daniels: So is if you want the kind of wonky details, we do this through something called the National Science and Technology Council, which is really the way that OSTP coordinates S&T parts of the US government. We have places like the state department involved, but really the focus is on S&T agencies like NASA and NSF and USGS. And we in this case also say a lot of the future issues that we're going to have to think about in this region of space. People with technical backgrounds have a particular sense of those today. So we wanted to create an umbrella kind of strategy but also create a foundation for future policies and initiatives by the US government. So this is an umbrella strategy, but it really puts people with technical backgrounds together at a table to say, what are the issues we anticipate? What are the things we want to do in this region of space? And then builds an umbrella focused on S&T communities.

Casey Dreier: Is it fair to say that we did not have a cislunar strategy before? Just phrasing it that way. I mean, there's stuff at the moon that we've done before, but in terms of what this is aiming to do, is this new? Is this a sui generis?

Matt Daniels: This is new. I'm not aware of us having had a cislunar strategy before. In fact, we should probably say how we define this here because everyone seems to have a kind of, or ends up having a somewhat different definition of it. What we mean we adapt the technical definition. The technical definition is really kind of everything within the moon's orbital radius for a long time. This has been used to colloquially mean the region kind of in high orbits above geosynchronous orbit out to the moon. And we take it in this context to mean everything in the earth moon system above GEO, but that's still in the earth moon system. So everything in the earth moon system beyond GEO including the lunar surface. And the reason we think about it that way is there's this kind of ways that we should think about space geography that are coming into focus. And some of the things that we're going to do on the moon depend on what we do in orbit around the moon, like having communications and future position navigation and time capabilities and some of the things that we want to have as precedents on the moon, like a shielded zone of the moon and protection of the RF environment there also depend on what satellites in orbit around the moon are going to be doing as they go over the lunar [inaudible 00:22:38]. So this was a way to kind of think about the region space and the moon together at the same time.

Casey Dreier: And it's a big region that we're talking about here. If you talked about the dimensional space that it's really mapping out. And I mean, this is a large area to have a specific strategy about. And there's something innately exciting to me about starting to define and specify detailed foundational plans for how to deal with not just thinking about even our nation, the nation or the globe, but out to the moon as the cislunar. This is the first kind of full near term space strategy we're building out now. I think we're seeing more and more focused, particularly on LEO, as it's getting really congested, GEO as it's already very congested and now the moon. And so it tells me, it says that this is something bigger is happening here at a fundamental level about the role of space in the high levels of the US government and other nations kind of planning and strategy development processes that this is becoming something to really think about at a detailed level.

Matt Daniels: I think it's tremendously exciting. I'll be the first to say I'm always excited about space exploration, but we're kind of doing a mix of exploration here, scientific exploration and starting to build a new sphere of human activity. And so when we say that our activities in space have the potential to improve us and improve how we think on earth, I think this is really exciting partly because now we have a chance to put that into practice in space. We can look at congestion in LEO and how we've made decisions about geosynchronous orbit and GEO and we can say, "Can we think ahead and anticipate the kinds of issues we might have, the kinds of problems we're going to want to solve? And can we start working on those today and not be reactive, but be kind of anticipating these issues while building the new sphere of human activity?"

Casey Dreier: What you want humanity to be doing is learning from past experiences and extrapolating them out, understanding where this is going into the future. And that's very quickly, I'll just say there are four main objectives in this system, learner science and technology strategy. I'll just list them real quick. And at a very high level, you mentioned one of them, research and development and science expanding international cooperation. And then the two that again you kind of mentioned just now that are really interesting to me, this expanding situational awareness, so where things are, and then also implementing communications and navigation positioning and timing capabilities. So understanding when things are and building this infrastructure communications infrastructure out at the moon. So this is the four big objectives we'll kind of dive into here, but through these kind of objectives, you're seeing exactly what you're talking about. You're laying out and taking what we've learned from our experiences, particularly in low earth orbit and looking forward, and this is actually kind of struck by the fact that situational awareness in cislunar space is no easy task just from what we just established. It's a huge space. And right now there's not a ton of stuff out there, but there are some, right? And the areas in which we want to go theoretically can be congested. And I think this is what, again, is interesting to me is that this team that you led or this committee that you led to really start looking about this is seeing that this is going to be an area that is not going away. This isn't some Apollo. What I brought up originally is this the first strategy? It's like we'd sent humans there six times and more to cislunar space, many more than six times and a bunch of landing robotics and lunar orbiters back in the '60s. And the Soviets were doing it, but we didn't have a clear broad system strategy in the sense that it was just like this, that the classic sense of that race, you solve it and then you just go back and everything about this strategy suggests that this is not a, Artemis is some one and done thing. This is laying out this foundational approach for ongoing sustainable presence.

Matt Daniels: As we were working on this, I love historical analogs and I like reading about history, so I will also be the first to say if I can reach back to Vikings or Polynesians or Venice in the 1300s, I'll be the first to do that. But in this case, we found that we were bringing up historical parallels that were mostly in the 20th century. We ended up thinking a lot about actually the early years of space flight where people were first putting things in the space and how do we, for example, put a civil foot forward and put our ideals out there and show that we want to work with other countries. There's some kind of long-term governance questions, which this first cislunar strategy doesn't really get into yet. But we found ourselves kind of looking for old articles on Antarctica before the Antarctic treaty and thinking about how have we in the past thought about convening discussions about how we're kind of all going to be together in a particular region. And then we found some parallels also to, and you see this maybe most of all with the comms and P&T and a little bit with SSA, the early years of ARPANET and how do we think about if we are designing communications approaches in certain ways, we might actually be setting precedents for the very long term. And we know that there are some things that we wish we had thought a little more about when we were creating ARPANET, but they were just kind of spreading forward and maybe we could think about those things today. And again that we benefit a lot from having technical people at the table to help think about those things. In this case, thinking about scalable communications approaches, approaches that are going to be able to not just handle five more spacecraft but many more spacecraft and systems over time. And starting to think not just about can we kind of solve navigation problems on an ad hoc basis for each mission, but do we have some kind of north star that we want to start getting toward and can we make sure that we're pushing the right parts of the US government to be thinking about what is the kind of long-term future we want on this region is base? How are we going to think about standard time at the moon? How are we going to think about navigation and common standards and who provides that information? Because the US has traditionally provided this kind of information free to the world because we found that it was in our interest to make others want to work with us. So we provide a lot of this kind of information on a freely available basis, which is wonderful on a wonderful thing that the US does. So how are we going to do that here and not to solve it by spacecraft?

Casey Dreier: Yeah, really that strikes me that you mentioned. Antarctic treaty was obviously in my mind as I was reading this too and seeing this kind of, again, almost seeing this in terms of a sequential step of how to phrase this ... We talk a lot about going to Mars and the US national space strategy talks about going to Mars eventually. And we talked about going to Mars in the last decade, but nothing really concrete happened with that because at a certain level, Mars is just so far away. How would you even define something like cismartian space? It would be most of the ... I mean, half of the solar system would be in that, right? And it would be so big to be meaningless. And it strikes me as that there seems to be kind of a sequential progression of policy as almost a leading indicator of technological capability and commercial development happening in the 20th century to some degree with Antarctica. I mean, maybe more the technological ability because obviously there's not much commercial activity in Antarctica. But I was thinking all the way, even back to the Monroe doctrine, if you want to go back that far of just for the US what is the near area sphere of interest and the sphere of interest as technology has enabled things to grow bigger, more accessible now is extending out to our nearest celestial body, but in step in this progressive way, is that a correct or useful way to think about this in terms of how policies like this drive or lead this kind of techno or maybe are led by technology and then suddenly we need these policies to address these new spheres that we have access to.

Matt Daniels: Partly, I think, and I should have been quick to add before when I added the Antarctica part, this is not to suggest that we want the moon to be Antarctica. It turns out there are some people who have strong feelings about that on either side and we're not really there yet. But more just as kind of the flavor of governance questions that we think we may have more of in the future that we would like to approach with the wisdom of forethought and the benefits of not thinking about it once it's suddenly wholly upon us, but convening thoughtful people with some lead time in advance. To your question, then we have a cislunar strategy, but we don't yet have a cismartian strategy. Will we someday have one of those? I'm not sure. That's an exciting thing to think about. I think in this case we were driven by really starting from a fresh sense of what do we expect to be happening at the moon and in this region of space around the moon and to a lesser degree the kind of even larger region of space and the rest of the earth moon system. And what we were finding was part of what makes this moment distinct is the fact that so many actors are going, we expect over the next decade so many actors are going and the actions by each kind of actor are likely to affect the physical and policy and operational environment for all the other actors. And so we should think about this together. And to some degree, you already see this with NASA in that the Artemis program includes the gateway station, which is in a kind of orbit around the moon that most people had not previously heard of because it's actually a type of orbit that leverages some attributes of three body problem orbits. So we already have some kind of examples of NASA thinking about this, but we wanted to widen that. And the kind of geography of space in a way gives a way to start to think about the moon and also this outer part of the earth moon system together in this particular historical moment.

Casey Dreier: How much of this is also just driven by the fact that we do have commercial actors versus if this had just been nation states?

Matt Daniels: I think it's partly commercial. Maybe I'll broaden up to say non-governmental actors.

Casey Dreier: Sure.

Matt Daniels: I mean, part of the exciting future is universities and private institutions that are not necessarily for-profit doing things at the moon. I think it's partly that. It's partly also that we have expressions of interest by both government and non-government actors in an enduring presence at the moment. So partly this is also, it's shaded partly by non-government actors and partly motivated by if we're going to be there on an ongoing basis. And it's not just periodic scientific orbiters, there's kind of new and additional things that we could be thinking about and starting to work on.

Casey Dreier: Yeah, I mean, that's why have, if you're talking about investing in a communication standard or networks or even P&T, you assume non-governmental actors be I think in a general sense. So you're building it for a general use purpose, right? It's an infrastructure purpose versus just a national security or national strategy need for one country. This kind of brings me to, so let's kind of talk more in detail about the strategy itself. I've gotten stuck because I just love the big picture implications of it, but it opens with something that struck me and I'm kind of really curious for your interpretation of this, which is the opening, it says the US will lead the world in responsible, peaceful and sustainable exploration and utilization of cislunar space including the moon. And this is something that's not new. This is in the US space strategy, every space strategy, congressional space policy, US will lead. And I was thinking as you're putting this together, what does lead mean in this sense? Because the US as we went to the moon in the '60s and '70s and no one else, no one can take that away from the United States, right? It's done. So in that sense, no one can ever usurp that action of never being first again. But what does leadership mean in this context? What would it mean to, is there a way to quantitatively evaluate what our leadership is? Is there a leadership quotient that we're worried about or is it just a kind of this broad-

Matt Daniels: [inaudible 00:35:20].

Casey Dreier: Yeah, yeah. I mean, well, that's interesting. How do we define leadership and then how do we know if we are leading or not in these broad contexts of politic? And there may be no easy answer to this, but how did you talk about this in terms of leadership, at least in your group and committee and with the intent in the OSTP?

Matt Daniels: There's a lot in that. So let me preface this a little bit with, you do see this kind of language in every space policy document in the United States, so I'm going to offer a bit of a personal opinion here as opposed to an institutional view on how we might start to think about leadership in this region of space. We could go back all the way to, and if you want to get wonky, we could go all the way back to the Webb McNamara Memo. There's something called the Webb McNamara Memo, it has an actual name. It's actually called the recommendations for our national space program changes policies and goals. And it was written in 1961 and it was cosigned by the then NASA administrator and the then Secretary of Defense. And it was the memo to the White House that helped eventually lead to the Apollo program. And what that memo recognized that was at the time a little bit new, was that human space flight captures the imagination of the world and that there really is something about human space flight that is attention getting to humans here on earth that draws us to be excited and engaged. And I think we often have an intuitive sense of that. And what this memo way back in 1961 said was we should actually factor that into US policy that this has relevance to, for example, American foreign policy for the US on a global stage and we should undertake some of our space activities with that factor in mind. So I would say today the idea of leadership has still an element of that. I think we've had a refinement of that idea over time that there is goodness for the United States in being the kind of country that other countries want to work with. And that is still important to our security, to our kind of role in the world and to a lot of the things that we care about. So part of leadership is kind of the visible and exciting things that we are doing especially and that we're especially good at that can draw others to want to work with us. Another part is doing things that we, and now maybe because we're in such a different moment from when that memo was written today is totally different. We're in a moment where working with allies and partners, the United States have a global network of allies and partners who are space faring. We see those on the International Space Station. I like to think of this sometimes as building the roots of Star Fleet or the early years of Star Fleet leadership means continuing to draw others to want to work with us and doing projects that we can work on together that our mutually interesting and that are good for humanity. And then there's kind of the things then that we have to do to achieve those things, which the strategy talks about as things like fostering new international cooperation, advancing scientific discovery, and even promoting in some cases economic development or activities by non-governmental actors.

Casey Dreier: I think that's a nice way to phrase it in terms of basically you're establishing expectations and opportunities almost is the way that you're kind of phrasing it versus necessarily measuring a yard post of the size of your rocket or how far out a space probe has gotten or it kind of this old Cold War school mentality. Yet at the same time, I wonder how much in the broader politics is seeing that kind of more simplistic leadership literally being ahead in some race like that, being in the lead of something always has this physical implication of you're further a field and I like this more kind of nuanced view that you're bringing to it. And I think from reading some of your previous work, you really lean into, again, what does the US do really well? Which again, this kind of international coalition building partnerships of choice where people or nations want to work with us and by doing so, we're establishing kind of norms of behavior and better [inaudible 00:39:43] of our nature style kind of activities rather than pure competitive processes.

Matt Daniels: Well, I was going to add, so there is one I think interesting and kind of simple idea that actually runs through the cislunar strategy related to this as well, which is start also with our current moment. And one of the broad objectives for the United States in our current moment and the decade ahead is that we want to make sure that the international, we describe in kind of wonky way, that the international rules-based order extends in the space that we have fostered this international system, which is based on rules and international agreements and the UN, all of that. And of course, that should extend into space. We can come up with examples on earth where that's working or not working right now on earth, but we want this rules based order to extend in the space and in this case also into cislunar space. One way that we could contribute to our future ability to extend this rules-based order in this case into this read of space near the moon is to lower barriers to entry for other rule following actors and to draw them to want to work with us there. And that can bolster our future ability to lead in ensuring that we have this kind of rules-based system that extends out to the move. I think first of all, that idea runs through the cislunar strategy and that's also a, to me as a space person, a very neat idea because if I were to condense that down a bit, I would say arguably it's in the US' interest to help make the moon and cislunar space more accessible to more humanity, if you kind of follow that idea, which is really cool and really exciting.

Casey Dreier: That is. That's a really interesting way to put this in terms of simultaneously presenting kind of an optimistic forward thinking and non-reactionary perspective, but also a very pragmatic national interest perspective too. It's serving a dual purpose there, right?

Matt Daniels: Yes.

Casey Dreier: Interesting way of putting it, lowering the energy barrier, I guess figuratively and literally in some senses to get out there and you're basically, you're the one building the roads, you decide where the roads go, you decide what the speed limits are on the roads to whatever kind of test this metaphor to its limits here. That seems to be something that has been really developing over the last, I would say 10 years really. This is a relatively new conception of space, particularly the cislunar area of space. And how much does that functionally then depend on the fact, I mean, kind of dancing around this a little bit, but the rise of China as a space power. Would this be happening without in a sense that the growing and clear capabilities of China? I mean, we're not even really talking about Russia anymore to this degree. It's really about the growth of the Chinese space program from the US perspective. So would this be happening without this, is this a core motivator? And if that is, despite all kind of the good feelings about this, is it fundamentally a reactive decision or is it mainly kickstarting something that needed to happen anyway?

Matt Daniels: So I'll start by saying I think this is and based largely on everything we've been talking about, intending to be the opposite of reactive because in a lot of cases the world changes and we react and we should really be in the business of envisioning positive futures and shaping the world to go in those directions. And so one way to think about this is we are in this moment where China has a growing space program. Unlike us, China combines their military and civil programs, so that adds some kind of complications when we think about the future of their government activities in space. We also have examples on earth where the government of China does things that we definitely don't want to see replicated in space. So in addition to testing ASATs and blowing up satellites and things like that, we've seen China build islands in international waters and then say that they won't militarize them and then militarize them. And we should want to not go toward those futures and space. And back to the leadership question, I think that's partly US leadership drawing on a large part of the world can say the future that we want is this one where everyone participates and it's based on rules.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: We'll be right back with the rest of Casey's interview with Matt Daniels from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House after this short break.

George Takei: Hello, I'm George Takei and as you know, I'm very proud of my association with Star Trek. Star Trek was a show that looked to the future with optimism boldly going where no one had gone before. I want you to know about a very special organization called The Planetary Society. They are working to make the future that Star Trek represents a reality. When you become a member of The Planetary Society, you join their mission to increase discoveries in our silver system to elevate the search for life outside our planet and decrease the risk of earth being hit by an asteroid. Co-founded by Carl Sagan and led today by CEO Bill Nye, The Planetary Society exists for those who believe in space exploration to take action together. So join The Planetary Society and boldly go together to build our future.

Casey Dreier: It strikes me as it's this interesting mix again of which space has always been right, this is nothing new. And again, it kind of goes back to what you mentioned earlier this and actually in one of your papers about the US-China history in space and relationship that what you called politically significant space flight programs which is a nice way to put it. And Alex McDonald had a great chapter in his book, the Long Space Age, about the symbolic and signaling power of human space flight, hard to make, hard to fake the perfect signal. And everyone intuitively understands going to the moon is hard and you send people there. That takes a lot of work to do that and that still holds that. And so I think there still becomes this political significance to now not just building up this kind of ball work in a sense against perceived and real challenge to US, I'd say power in certain areas and national security, but also in a sense that there is still a real competition, maybe is too strong of a word, but you still get something as a nation for doing human space flight out to the moon that still represents something even though it's "been done before." And I feel like we've seen, at least on the Chinese side, nothing a particular focus on politically significant motivations behind their space program. We look at even lots of selfies of the really cool selfies of the robotic missions and picturing itself on Mars and these great pictures to splash across the headlines. And I think there's a lot of us still benefits from, it joins you into a very small and rarefied club. And so this is still kind of happening at pace, at its own process. And through I think that this development of a serious competitor in this domain, it does seem like there's been this coalescence around cislunar space as this, I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it contested because it's so big and a lot of it is theoretical, but at least awareness of it that drives attention if nothing else. So it does seem, I can see what you're saying, it's not necessarily reactive, but still at some point you have to ask. 10 years ago NASA wound down its full moon program officially, right? There was very little mention of cislunar anything. And so clearly something has changed in the last 10 years to make this not just a NASA issue.

Matt Daniels: You're right on a lot of this and clearly to some degree the importance of signaling is not going to go away. And so there's always going to be a bit of an element of that. Of course, in this case where we started this discussion, we've been to the moon, so we already checked the box of get there first clearly. I think it is easy to forget when you kind of look at the US China [inaudible 00:48:04] that there's a lot of other actors who are going to be going to the moon. And so it's private actors, Europe and Japan, and we're hoping a lot more countries than those even. And so part of this moment, and part of what makes this moment exciting is that there is and there can be, there's the possibility of this being bigger and tied to us as a space faring society. I think when China goes to the moon eventually that they will be going with the government space program, we will be having a lot of NASA activities in the vicinity of the moon and around the moon and on the moon, but we will also have American institutions that are not part of the US government doing things at the moon and this worldwide set of allies and partners coming with us to the moon. And so I think part of the moment is realizing that this can be a strength in the United States. This is a strength and it's a strength that we should be embracing because it's a strength and a virtue to have others want to work with us and to do things in this kind of international spirit.

Casey Dreier: And I've been obviously focusing on the US perspective of this a lot because it's the US strategy. But again, I think that's a really important fundamental thing to keep in mind with this. I mean, that's objective number two we'll talk about is expanding this international cooperation. But even to your point, let's just briefly talk about the four big objectives here in this strategy. The first one is again, kind of along these big picture, positive, optimistic lines, which is supporting research and development and basic science to support growth in cislunar space. And to understand it better, to understand the resources, I mean, right out of the bat, that's kind of exactly what you want a science-driven program to be really focusing on. And so, I mean, in a large sense, there's lots of great language here, but what's the intent again in creating and crafting a strategy like this? Theoretically, so you want to say support, research and development. How does that then filter down to the agencies or in the ideal case of the agencies themselves, what would you like to see come out of this strategy in terms of R&D as, are there ways that you try to measure this or does this get a memo sent to the head of every CFO in terms at every science agency? Or how does this kind of filter through the system to try to actually achieve the actual implementation of this?

Matt Daniels: That's a great question and a compound question. So the first part of it is we used as an organizing principle R&D that can also help enable long-term growth in this region of space. So doing scientific exploration, but also learning how to have better scientific instruments on the moon, learning how to have humans survive beyond the Van Allen belts for much longer periods of time, learning how to have humans able to stay for long periods of time on planetary surfaces. And then thinking about the things that we're going to want to do in science at the moon, not necessarily next year or in the next five years, but in a long term. So back to the shielded zone of the moon and that kind of RF environment that's tremendously important or could be tremendously important to the future of radioastronomy and even SETI. Things that we do over the next decade will affect that kind of long-term future. So we wanted to think about how we put together R&D priorities in a way that focuses, that enables this future growth at the moon and in cislunar space. And then at the same time, that is exciting to people who want to be scientists and engineers and that we develop programs where young people can start to work on these things. We can't do science unless we train people as scientists. We were talking about life at a university at Cornell earlier. So we always need to, when we talk about things that we want to do in R&D and science and technology, you can't have that discussion without thinking about how we're also doing education at the same time. The wonky part of your question at the end there was how do we implement this with departments and agencies? Step one was bringing everyone to a table for a period of time to kind of iterate on this. We also did an RFI last summer, so we posted through kind of a process where the White House can solicit anyone in the public could write a memo us. And some of those, I have to say unexpectedly was a joyful process. People made some really thoughtful letters and it was kind of amazing to sit with them and absorb these ideas and we share those with departments and agencies as well. But now that we have the strategy, we essentially do a multi-step process where we work with departments and agencies to say, tell us how you're going to implement this. And we give some kind of focus areas to each department and then they write back to us and describe how they're planning to pursue it. And we say, that sounds great, or that sounds mostly good, but we'd like you to add this area and we kind of settle into this new direction.

Casey Dreier: Does the OMB get this memo as well? Did they see it?

Matt Daniels: I am tied at the hip to OMB, so I'm told I'm not allowed to commit the nation's treasury to-

Casey Dreier: Dang.

Matt Daniels: ... experiencing at the moon or at least I've not been given a blank check.

Casey Dreier: So all right.

Matt Daniels: I'm making this realistic to fit with how OMB thinks about things. OMB colleagues have a tough job they have to make when I work on this, but lots of people work on all kinds of federal policy and OMB has to put it all together and make sure that we can afford to do all these things.

Casey Dreier: They to actually have to make things balance at OMB.

Matt Daniels: Yes.

Casey Dreier: Right.

Matt Daniels: So a lot of conversations with OMB focus on when is there new spending versus when are we talking about not duplicating things between departments and agencies? When are we talking about sharing data or just openly publishing data that particular departments or agencies are creating? And sometimes are we able to do things that we were already planning to do, make sure that we do them in a certain way that has these kind of big, important, more national effects.

Casey Dreier: All right. You mentioned something, actually, I always had a question about. So you said OMB for example, is trying to balance, there's a lot of different priorities coming out? I mean, how are these priorities ranked? Is there literally some internal ranking system? This is a policy strategy of Class one B, or there's another one that's like class AAA? How do you hierarchically or just try to prioritize all these various strategies within an administration?

Matt Daniels: Yeah, so one big way is the Space Council. So I'm in the Office of Science Technology Policy. The Space Council put out something called actually the Space Priorities Framework as a public document probably about a year ago now. So that gives a kind of first order. That's a public document. Anyone can look that up, but that's also how we fit priorities together internally as well. Apart from that, we also, one way to think about how a White House works is that there are policy councils, so OSTP, The National Security Council, The National Space Council, and then we work with OMB and we talk about what our priorities are as policy councils and we get to know our OMB counterparts and we work with them closely.

Casey Dreier: So a dynamic process, it sounds like it's a ... Let's move on to just an interest of time objective two. I just want to touch on because I think, again, that's one of ... when I'm pressed by somebody who tends to be skeptical about why the US is going back to the moon, I tend to fall on this the most in terms of convincing a skeptical individual, this international cooperation in cislunar space. And so obviously excited to see that it wasn't too surprised, but I think doesn't give it the proper respect that it really deserves the implications of this about how different it is this time and how important international cooperation is. Was that just something that just, I mean, you kind of took for granted or how does that discussion in this committee work up to the international cooperative aspect of it?

Matt Daniels: We took that from the beginning and also that we have this kind of a lot of agreement between the White House and NASA and more broadly in Washington DC on NASA's Artemis program, which is going to the moon and then going onward to Mars from there. And so Artemis has a Moon to Mars program. Well, we're going to the moon first. So that is a kind of first just pragmatic step. I think many of us also would say that the moon is a logical stepping stone into the solar system, especially when we're talking about a human presence beyond Earth. It's a place where we can learn to work in space, learn to work, and live in space. Because since the Apollo program, we've really had humans in low earth orbits and within the Van Allen belts. For as long as we've been working in space, there are still some really fundamental things that we haven't figured out yet. So the moon is a great place to learn those things and experiment. And then it's a great place to work with many other countries because the moon is simultaneously this inspirational, exciting, viscerally moving thing that humans around the planet look up and see. Mars is going to be a little bit further in the future for most countries. And so this is something that we can work together on and that we can think about having these kind of rich and vibrant partnerships with many other countries out of the moon.

Casey Dreier: This was always, I think, the claim of Scott Pace and others that the moon was represented the sweet spot of accessibility and openness to a variety coalition of nations that Mars just couldn't provide. And even at a practical level, you can launch to the moon every month versus once every 26 months. So it's much easier to have multiple collaborations with that.

Matt Daniels: I think I would also add to that it does have an excitement for many people.

Casey Dreier: Yeah. No one tracks the phases of Mars, not to the extent that you can see them from earth, but the moon, as you pointed out, is very immediate and physical tool everybody.

Matt Daniels: Yeah. I also like the idea that the moon we're going to in the decade ahead, across the years ahead is not the same moon that we went to with the Apollo program because when we went there with the Apollo program, we understood it to be a dry kind of barren place. And now we have all of this extra, we have all this new knowledge about the geology and the fact that there seems to be water. Our knowledge of it has changed so much. It's like going to a different place and landing astronauts at the, I don't know if you've seen the pictures of astronaut training in the neutral buoyancy lab at Johnson when they're setting the lighting conditions of what it would be like on the lunar South Pole. I mean, the moon already looks like an alien world. This is a really alien world looking place because the sunlight's coming from the side and there are these deep shadows that you can't see into and this kind of very dramatic landscape. So I think it is going to be quite different and in some exciting and interesting ways.

Casey Dreier: And again, that coalition is just so you need something big enough to drive that attention and commitment, but also within the realm of feasibility, both budget and technologically in order to drive that commitment too. And that's what seems the moon is just really that sweet spot for.

Matt Daniels: And back to that idea that we were talking about before, that we can take that observation and not just have that as an observation, but say this is a great opportunity for the United States to draw others to work with us in a new set of space activities.

Casey Dreier: And that's what I love about what we're seeing in this broad sense. The Artemis Accord is almost as this zero level entry point for any nation. You can just raise your hand as a nation and say, "I want to be part of this. I commit to these ideals." But it doesn't cost you anything to do that. It's just a statement of shared ideals. And then you have these kind of increasing like robotics or small contributions or propulsion contributions all the way up to building a module for gateway building a lunar surface network or something based on the level your nation wants or is capable of committing to. So you're giving these multiple entry points for nations, even ones that are developing or maybe just have the intent to develop their own space programs, but building the coalition as broadly and as maximally as we can, which I think again, is what really makes this stand out to me is this broad strategy.

Matt Daniels: And back to the idea of lowering various entry, we can actually, I think and hope make this easier as well. So when you look at the trends that we've had in low earth orbit over the last, say 15 years or so, overwhelmingly, that's mostly dropping launch costs that we have this renaissance of private activities in low earth orbit. And that's the biggest part of it. But there is also the fact that unlike the beginning of the kind of space age, unlike the beginning of the space age, if you want to know where your satellite is, you can put a GPS chip on it. If you want to find and track your satellite, you can buy that as a service. If you want to downlink data from your satellite, you can buy that as a service too, or you can work with other partners to do that. And so there's all these things that have been not just launched, but all these other things that have been difficult in the past for operating in space, just barely in space in low earth orbit that are much easier now. And those things don't exist at the moon. And so if you want to send something, even just a spacecraft to orbit the moon, you risk losing it. And then you have to do searches to find it again. And this has happened. You have to think about how you're going to communicate with it and downlink data. It's very hard as a non-government actor to get time on the deep space network, very hard to do. And DSN is going to struggle to scale to many things in this region of space. DSN does extraordinary things as a kind of central node for the entire solar system and getting data from across the solar system, but it was not designed for tens or hundreds of things out of the moon. Even knowing where you are for doing science operations at the moon and in lunar orbit, hard to do that or you have to work more to do that. And so those are places where in the strategy where there's communications and P&T and even SSA, those are the kinds of things that can help on a very pragmatic basis, lower barrier to entry for lunar following actors.

Casey Dreier: So I put a pin in that because I just, well, we'll address those very soon. Those two, the objectives three and four, but I just want to, one more thing I just want to acknowledge about what I loved at this line in an objective two, which is again about international cooperation. It says a international science technology cooperation can foster peace. And I just love that line. And it's important to remember what's at stake with this too, at some very fundamental level is that this isn't just for the purity of exploration and science. There's some very pragmatic and important outcomes of doing this, which is that, I think that really sums it up nicely, can foster peace.

Matt Daniels: Absolutely. And peace is something that we have to proactively pursue and foster.

Casey Dreier: We clearly can't take it for granted anymore. I think a lot of people may have for a long time. So two other things, just want to acknowledge from that and then we'll move on because we're running out of time. But I love the idea, by the way, you get my Casey seal approval for the international lunar year. What a great, totally appropriate. Perfect. Yeah.

Matt Daniels: I like that too.

Casey Dreier: Love the historical ... you talking about the student of history, just the IGY of course being so important, critical to our entire space age and having international lunar year. Great. Chef's kiss to that. And then just also just wanted to acknowledge, you talk about in the same thing, you're developing with this international coalition, technical foundations for best practices, which isn't just being nice to each other. It's also really, again, practical things like debris mitigation in cislunar space, lunar ejecta, right? You kick up a lot of dust when you land on the moon. How's it going to impact everyone else's instrumentation and safety and hardware, even basic things, radiofrequency interference, all these really meat and potatoes stuff we need to figure out because they can have really important consequences. So I just wanted to acknowledge setting these standards and expectations with international partners is, to your point, it'll lower the barrier of entry for people and other nations and organizations going forward. If there's a clear set of standards and operations that also make everyone safer.

Matt Daniels: And I love talking to you at The Planetary Society about this because there's a role for scientists and engineers in this. These are areas where scientists and engineers can do work that is adopted by governments and that is picked up and used by governments. And so there has, I think that's one of the kind of greatest things about work in science and engineering that you can do things that have this kind of public spiritedness and contributions to governance. And this is one of those areas we're going to need to think about. We have international debris mitigation guidelines for earth orbit developed originally by technical communities. The moon has no atmosphere. Things that are an orbit around the moon could be there for a very, very, very long time. We're going to need to develop some other practices..

Casey Dreier: Yeah. Well, that's our objective. One comes in the research and development objectives three and four, let's just touch on together. And again, I think, again, these are really foundation exciting things for me in terms of expanding the scope when we think of some of the basic functions of government. Number three was extending space situational awareness. So again, we've talked a lot of these or alluded to them already, just knowing where things are, having a catalog of knowing where things are, which is something that space force now the Department of Commerce will be taking over, kind of managing the catalog here for low earth orbit, particularly as things get more congested. But then number four, I just want to touch on too, because again, we talked about the implementation of, you said communications, positioning, navigation, and timing. And just again, knowing where things, it just helps exactly where things are with like the GPS at the moon timing though, something about timing, it just made me very romantically think about, it's almost like taming the chaos is what objective four is saying is that one of the foundational responsibilities of government is to provide in a sense security, but also order to an otherwise kind of chaotic region. And you do that even by just having the same clock. I was thinking about almost how time became standardized when you started having train schedules needing to run all over the country because suddenly you needed to know where things were when this is ethical change from just in a sense the pure wilderness to something that we're applying some sort of human made order onto and what's more human made basic than just counting time. So that something about that resonated with me.

Matt Daniels: Well, cool. Me too. I think it's this interesting thing where it has a kind of really nuts and bolts pragmatic importance. It has a kind of surprisingly neat technical attributes I'll talk about in a second. And then it has this kind of philosophical, interesting ideas. The nuts and bolts part is the way GPS works is of course based on a common timing signal and GPS satellites broadcasting kind of their time. And then when you get four of those, you can figure out where you are. So our approach to GPS like positioning and navigation capabilities does rely on very precise clocks and timing signals really. So there's an idea here that if you want to do navigation and precise positioning for anything from predicting conjunctions to knowing where you're going to land on a kind of repeatable basis to knowing where you are relative to other things, that turns out to need clocks as well because you have to know where you are at what time. There is a neat technical element to this. It's actually well captured. There was just a nature news article on this surprisingly, and to me, very cool that the moon is not at the same gravitational depth as the earth and relativity tells us that time depends on where you are in a gravity field. And so there is actually this special relativity issue of how do we think about approaches to clocks that account for the fact that the moon is not the same depth of the gravity well as the earth. So how do you coordinate time between earth and places that are not gravitationally on the surface of the earth? And maybe in the longer term, when you start to think about second order details, the moon is lumpy. That's a technical term that the mass concentrations of the moon might have implications for the gravitational field and create a need to have gravity maps around the moon, which would kind of further affect how we think about timing signals. And do we account for that or how do we account for that? So there's some neat, I think surprisingly neat technical elements of this that is a part of long future now kind of philosophically how we address these questions could affect how we think about humans living and thriving in other places throughout the solar system as well. I think one of the exciting things about our solar system is we have a lot of places where someday, someday humans might be living and creating communities, and we're just going to have these kinds of questions on a bigger scale. And we get to start to think about those technically a little bit on a very pragmatic basis today at the moon today.

Casey Dreier: So I guess if I remember my special relativity roughly than the clock should tick slightly faster than Earth's because it's at a lower gravity. Well, so it's experiencing time a bit faster.

Matt Daniels: Oh God, I think so that it's 4:50 on a Friday afternoon.

Casey Dreier: It's all right. I won't hold you to the-

Matt Daniels: I think so.

Casey Dreier: Let's just say there are interesting practicalities, applications of special relativity involved in going to the moon, which will ... and again, I like how all these kind of feedback in again to this international cooperation collaboration identifying setting standards and also by figuring these out, making it so future actors, individuals, organizations, nations, don't have to start from square one that you have this in, you're building infrastructure starting with Chronos, right? You're starting with the application of time and space and knowing where you are. Well, I want to say again, thank you for really spending your time talking with me and our audience about some of the thinking that went into this. Obviously there was a lot of great discussions that fed into this. What is your hope for this cislunar strategy? What's your kind of ideal case for how this gets applied through government? And is there a timeline for observers like me and members of The Planetary Society? What do we evaluate the success of this strategy in your opinion?

Matt Daniels: The narrow answer is that we hammer out wonky implementation processes with departments and agencies over the next few months. And that you start to see the things that are being done by places like NASA and NSF and USGS accord with things that are described in this strategy that we all came together and agreed to. So one element is over the next year or two, seeing ideas from the strategy manifest in the activities of places like NASA and NSF. More broadly, what is my hope for this kind of strategy for the cislunar strategy, it's that this is a first step that will be followed by others. That this is a document that will prompt new focus and new ways of thinking. This idea of thinking about the moon and this region of space around it and new coordination across the US government and that future leaders will find value in building successors to the strategy and building the next steps in policies that follow from the strategy. This is very much meant to be a first step, and then that ultimately we are a spacefaring society. We're not just a society that has a government space program. We are increasingly a spacefaring society. And one of the exciting things here is that we are building a new sphere of human activity at the moon and going from there into the solar system. When we really look into that, it turns out there's so much to do. There's a ton of different things for people with very different interests and backgrounds to work on together. And there are so many exciting possibilities ahead. So it in summary, is a hope that this is a first step to a very kind of exciting and varied future that helps us step into the solar system.

Casey Dreier: Great way to put it. Well, we will check in with you in the future, Matt, to see how things are going with this. But again, thank you for your time. Very exciting new document and area of focus for the US government, and again, all these agencies beyond and really for the whole world as we really start to look at the practical implementation of what it means to be in cislunar space together. Thank you, Matt.

Matt Daniels: Thank you.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Another wonderful conversation, Casey, thanks for sharing that with us.

Casey Dreier: Yeah, that was a really fun one, and again, really great of Matt to take ... it's not easy working at the White House. You tend to be quite busy.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: I can imagine.

Casey Dreier: If anyone who's watched the West Wing, that's actually relatively accurate. So really appreciate the time that Matt gave us and really appreciate that he walked us through their thinking and details of this. These are big issues with big questions, and it's just so exciting to see this start to move forward at the highest levels of our government.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Yeah, it's an interesting and kind of mind-bending place to be where the question is no longer how do we get things into cislunar space, but how do we create a strategy to most effectively make use of that space? It feels a little different.

Casey Dreier: Yeah. Well, and again, what I really liked about his perspective, and you heard me and react to it in real time in the interview, but this idea that this is an opportunity for the United States to establish behaviors and norms, but also expectations to make it easier for all sorts of other people to come into this aspect of space. So this isn't about establishing the US as in a sense, leadership or racing to the moon and planting a flag. This is the United States trying to make it easier for lots of other nationalities and organizations and other actors to join us. And that's just such a cool way to think about it. And it's a broad effort that we want to have a long-term beneficial presence, learning from things in the past and extending that into the future.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Well, anybody who's listening obviously can learn more every month with our space policy edition of Planetary Radio, but we also have a monthly newsletter, our Space Advocate newsletter. Can you tell us where to find that, Casey?

Casey Dreier: Yeah, just Google Space Advocate Newsletter. I think that's the easiest way. We need to work on a short, easy URL for this. But it's a free newsletter. You don't even have to be a member of The Planetary Society though you should, but it's a free newsletter you get every month. I write a little essay at the beginning of it. I link to key space policy events so you can kind of stay abreast of the situation about what's going on. I think it's a great newsletter, just completely objectively. I think it's a great newsletter that everyone should subscribe to. And again, if you just Google the Space Advocate Newsletter and you will find it the top hit.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: And I always learn something new each time it comes into my inbox. So thank you for that. And as Casey said, this newsletter and all the rest of our work is made possible by our Planetary Society members. So if you want to help in our continued efforts to shape humanity's future and space, it really does make a difference, and we're really grateful for your support. So if you want to join us, please go to because you make all of this space policy work and this show possible. Well, thanks again, Casey, for keeping us up to date on the world of space policy.

Casey Dreier: Sarah, my pleasure as always, and look forward to talking with you again next month.

Sarah Al-Ahmed: Awesome. And until next month, everyone, ad astra.