The Space Frontier Foundation today called for all Americans to support the new space plan laid out by President Obama, calling a spate of attacks smearing the concepts unfortunate and obviously misinformed. Citing recent editorials, blogs and media appearances by supporters of the old space program, the Foundation urged all parties to take a fresh look at the proposals laid out by Obama in his April 15 speech at Kennedy Space Center and get behind the new initiative. Led by a small group of well known astronauts and congress members from areas whose districts have benefited from programs now shown to be dead ends or to have wasted billions of dollars in taxpayer funds, the attacks have portrayed the new initiative as an attack on NASA and America's leadership in space - the Foundation says it is quite the opposite.
"The new vision for NASA is obviously and clearly a huge step forward for the agency and Americans who care about opening space in a real, sustainable and affordable manner," said the Foundation's Chairman Bob Werb. " I was in Florida with the president and I know he means it when he says he strongly supports NASA and America's leadership in space - he also believes in the American people's ability to participate and create a new space industry."
The Foundation, often a critic of NASA programs and plans as wasteful or counter productive to US space ambitions, finds itself strongly supporting many of the new changes. It says this is the first administration that has truly committed to the revolutionary changes needed to what has been a moribund space program that was going nowhere at great cost.
A sampling of these include:
An increase in the NASA budget of over $6 billion dollars over the next five years.
A hand off of routine transportation to Low Earth Orbit to commercial carriers including traditional and NewSpace firms - which enables NASA to focus on exploration rather than transportation and will spur a whole new commercial space industry in the US.
Developing new NASA transportation systems to operate efficiently in deep space - enabling wide scale future explorations of all sorts.
Investment in research to enable the use of resources in space
A focus on those technologies needed to support human habitation of space over "indefinite" periods.
NASA led missions to asteroids, the Moons of Mars and Mars itself within the next 20-30 years.
"We have been calling for many of these concepts for a long time as enablers for humans to live permanently beyond the Earth," said the Foundation's Rick Tumlinson. "We ask our national leaders and heroic explorers to take a deep breath, take a fresh look, and get with a program that will lead to more space jobs, more flights to space and more opportunities for a whole new generation of astronauts and regular people to enter the space frontier."
The Foundation, many of whose members are actively engaged in space projects and companies, believes that NASA has been given an agenda that corrects decades of mistakes and dead ends, and will enable almost everyone who supports a strong and permanent US presence in space to get involved and excited about what is to come.
"This is a sea change in our course to the stars," said Werb. "We will also work to protect and expand upon what has been laid out. If we follow and build on this plan the US will soon have a thriving commercial space industry with several new spaceships flying to and from space, multiple space stations both government and commercial and tens of thousand of new jobs all across the nation supporting this New Space economy."
The Foundation intends to make sure that the agenda as laid out is not abandoned or sold out to appease some in the old school space establishment who are more interested in continuing to waste funds rather than enable the opening of space, and will be leading a crusade to support the changes, convince those who don't understand what they mean, and educate Americans as to the potential offered by space as the next home of humanity.
"There are some who will not be persuaded, we will try to defend the new plan from their machinations and attempts to sabotage it," said Tumlinson. "For our part, we want all of the above: near Earth space, Mars, and yes we will push for a return to the Moon - perhaps led by the private sector including universities and commercial firms." He concluded, "NASA explorers will soon have the tools and funding to head off into the Solar System - and not just to plant flags and footsteps, but as harbingers of a new wave of human exploration and settlement as Americans of all types get to participate in opening this grand new frontier - after all, the Space Frontier Foundation believes we all have the right stuff. This is going to be an exciting time for all of us!"