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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Space Frontier Foundation: Government Must Buy All Rides to Space Commercially

In the wake of the Augustine Commission's declaration that the troubled Ares rocket program is unaffordable under any realistic budget projections, the Space Frontier Foundation renewed its call to immediately cancel the costly dead-end project and replace it with multiple commercial vehicles.

"Three years ago [The Space Frontier Foundation] published Unaffordable and Unsustainable, declaring that government must henceforth 'buy all crew and cargo services with a destination of low Earth orbit [from] commercial providers using privately-owned and operated spaceships'," said Foundation co-Founder Bob Werb.

"For over a decade, we've said that continuing to try and develop new government rockets costs too much and delays human exploration beyond Earth orbit," added co-Founder Rick Tumlinson. "Pouring more money into Ares now is the equivalent of giving a taxpayer-funded I.V. to a corpse. Instead, let's use those funds to give birth to a new and vibrant space transport industry that might actually make money and open the space frontier to everyone."

"Derivatives of proven commercial launch systems, and new ones under development, could meet any reasonable need for heavy lift," said Foundation co-Founder, James Muncy. "The barrier is psychological: NASA will have to stop pretending it can design cost-effective launch vehicles and instead focus on exploration systems that fit on the launch vehicles taxpayers can really afford."

Werb concluded: "The choice is clear. We can continue funding an overpriced, government space limousine, or we can kick-start a whole new industry that will reduce government's costs and create new jobs. The tools of private sector innovation and competition offer our best and only chance to have affordable and sustainable human space exploration."

1 comment:

Aremis Asling said...

I'm a huge fan of the private space market and I certainly have my doubts on constellation, but this concerns me a little. I support commercialization of american space access to LEO and for some if not most satellite and probe launches. I even support commercial manned lunar/mars/asteroid access. But I don't think the commercial sector is ready to provide capabilities for manned access beyond LEO, and I worry that we are delaying the Moon return even further by scrapping constellation so late in the game. If we had done it two years ago, maybe, but now it seems we're almost stuck with constellation or faced with additional delays.