TEA Party Space Platform


image (Washington DC) -- TEA Party in Space (TPIS), a non-partisan organization, today publicly released the TEA Party Space Platform (link to platform). "This is our response to the vacuum of leadership in Washington, D.C., for America's national space enterprise," said Andrew Gasser, President of TPIS. "Whether it's timidity from the White House or Congress' earmark-laden 'compromises', our space dreams will be stuck on this planet unless someone articulates a vision based on economic and technical reality, so that's what we've done."

This platform, and its specific planks, are grounded in sound science, technology, and the TEA Party's core values. The TEA Party in Space Platform promotes fiscal responsibility, limited government, and stimulation of the free market.

"The status quo of crony capitalism, earmarking billions of NASA's budget to a few companies, districts and states, has got to stop. We already tried this approach with Constellation and all we have to show for it are stacks of power point presentations, some pretty CGI videos, and a half-billion-dollar practice rocket" said Gasser. "It's time to return NASA to its roots as an R&D agency instead of serving as a slush fund for a few influential members of congress. This platform provides that plan."

This platform gives the Administration, Congress, and federal candidates guidance on economic policy, technology development, and legislative priorities to help advance America's leadership in space. Specific issues covered in the platform include reform of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), tax incentives for space investment, and changes to how NASA does business. One example of government waste the platform corrects is the U.S. Senate's mandating of a wasteful Space Launch System in last year's NASA Authorization Act. Instead of embracing new technology and opportunities to leverage private investment, Congress chose to waste over $11 billion in a few districts and states to keep a few contractors in business for a few more years. Instead, the TPIS platform calls for moving NASA away from the 'Apollo crash program model' of designing, building, and operating its own unique and ultra-expensive launch vehicles.

"The same NASA centers and contractors who failed to complete the Constellation program are getting a bailout courtesy of the taxpayers. Billions of dollars continue to be directed to Ares contractors, just under a different name, SLS" Everett Wilkinson stated. "The TEA Party's core values are just what America's space endeavors need right now in this volatile economy. NASA is being forced to fund programs that are behind schedule and ridiculously over budget. It's time to ask: 'how much is enough?' Both NASA, and the American taxpayer deserve a better plan and that's what our platform provides."

Recently, a report mandated by Congress found that a private upstart company designed and built two new launch systems, and several generations of a new rocket engine all for roughly $390 million taxpayer dollars. The report estimated it would have cost NASA anywhere from $1.7 billion to $4 billion dollars to develop those same capabilities using standard NASA acquisition approaches.

Constellation cost the US Taxpayer over $11 billion dollars and produced only test articles, no flown hardware. When it was cancelled last year, its schedule had already slipped by more than a year for each year it had existed. And even NASA's vaunted robotic science projects are plagued by cost overruns and delays. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is suffering the same fate of Constellation. Originally priced at just under $1 billion dollars with a launch date of 2010, JWST is currently $5 billion dollars over budget and eight years behind schedule. TPIS is making this platform available to everyone to read and review on their website, and then discuss with their friends and neighbors. TPIS hopes that people from all political backgrounds will read this.

"Our goal is make space policy a national issue. We want to educate Americans and our elected officials that we have a space economy and not just a space program, and every district and state can participate. We need to move away from calling a state a 'space state' or a district a 'space district'" stated Isaac Mooers, TPIS Director of Operations. "We have a platform that will grow all of America's potential in space. We ask each elected official, and those running for office, to review the TEA Party Space Platform and pledge to vote in line with this platform."

TPIS and its volunteer network will be reaching out nationwide to candidates and elected officials of all parties.

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TEA Party in Space (TPIS), is a non-partisan organization dedicated to educating the American people and their elected representatives in applying the core principles of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets to the rapid and permanent expansion of American civilization into the space frontier, focusing on strategies for privatization, deregulation, and appropriate technology development partnerships between government institutions and the private sector. TEA Party in Space is proud to be part of a coalition of individual tea party groups with Tea Party Patriots. For more information, visit www.TEAPartyinSpace.com

Tea Party Patriots, Inc. ("TPP") is a non-partisan, non-profit social welfare organization dedicated to furthering the common good and general welfare of the people of the United States. TPP is the original and largest national grassroots tea party organization that is composed of over 2700 individual tea party groups. There are over a 130 tea party groups in Florida. TPP furthers this goal by educating the public and promoting the principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets. Tea Party Patriots has not endorsed candidates for public office. For more information, visit www.TeaPartyPatriots.org

TPIS Platform

The TEA Party in Space Platform is grounded in American exceptionalism and the TEA Party core values of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.

Our goal is nothing less than the expansion of American civilization into the solar system. Fifty years ago, the United States was in a Space Race with the Soviet Union. Our nation applied the strategy we had developed in World War II - a "crash" federal research and development program that spared no expense to accomplish the short-term goal of landing an American on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. America can no longer afford the big government "crash" model. We must return to traditional American free-market principles to expand permanently into space. It was American individuals and businesses who pioneered the wilderness, built a continent-spanning nation, and created the most prosperous economy in the history of humanity.

We must therefore advance the goal of permanently settling the space frontier by fostering private as well as appropriate government activities in space. We can do so by:

1. Creating a legal, tax and regulatory framework, that fosters free and competitive markets that increasing private investment in space activities.

2. Pursuing all federal space activities, especially civilian projects, in such a way as to utilize and strengthen the U.S. commercial space industry, and realigning projects wherever necessary to reinforce, rather than distort, normal market forces.

Only through fiscally responsible policy, which limits government bureaucracy and stimulates the free market, will the United States expand on its leadership in space. By removing barriers of entry to the utilization of the solar system, new business models become viable. This sound free-market-based approach will create new sectors of the economy and strengthen America as the vanguard of freedom and opportunity as we spread throughout the solar system. We will carry forth the American values that made our nation great. The United States will settle space as it settled the American continent. The days of Lewis and Clark, and Apollo, are over.

This is the Oregon Trail space policy.

Law and Policy

Congress must implement new policies and reform old space laws to promote the greatest possible private-sector engagement in profitable free-market space activities. Therefore:

Plank - Congress must reform International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), easing restrictions on U.S. private enterprise from engaging in commerce with friendly countries in the sale of goods and services. Specifically, and among other things, satellites should be removed from the munitions list.

Plank - Congress must pass legislation capping liability for commercial human spaceflight.

Plank - Zero-G means Zero-Tax. In order to stimulate the growth of the space economy, the tax code must be amended to exempt from taxation, all business activities related to human spaceflight, including suborbital, low earth orbit (LEO), and beyond.

Plank - The Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) shall continue to be the regulatory agency for private spaceflight, including spaceflight carried out by the private sector for the public sector. NASA shall only have jurisdiction over missions which are exclusively carried out by and for the government.

Plank - Space Property Rights - the US department of State shall be directed to review and amend as necessary applicable international law to ensure the rights of all US private entities are respected, up to and including renegotiation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1972 Liability Convention, and to reiterate US opposition to the 1979 Moon Treaty.

Plank - Congress must order a study to:

* Determine appropriate roles and responsibilities for existing space-related agencies
* evaluate agencies' performance in those functions where they currently exist
* identify potential realignment of those functions being performed, including assignment to new agencies
* identify homes for those functions currently not being performed, including new agencies.

Economic Policy

For American values to spread throughout the solar system, the United States government must strongly support and utilize free-market principles in how it promotes the settlement of space. Government agencies including FAA/AST, DOD (including DARPA), and NASA must become a partner of commercial entities and facilitator of market emergence and growth. These government agencies must also develop sound economic policies for commissioning new missions, project management, and technology development. Robust free-market competition has been objectively shown to be the most cost-effective means of producing and procuring goods and services. Therefore:

Plank - NASA shall, when seeking to develop new space capability, first attempt to do so via a partnership with one or more commercial entities using fixed-price Space Act Agreements (SAA). Failing this, NASA shall still attempt to structure the largest possible fraction of the development as such a partnership. Cost-plus development contracts should be focused solely on specific challenges that are so technically risky and complex that they require this flexibility

Plank - Under no circumstances will NASA use cost-plus contracts for the development of traditional, rocket-based, launch systems.

Plank - Congress shall fully fund, as requested, the next phase of Commercial Crew Development to ensure the successful development of three or more orbital human spaceflight systems. NASA shall commit to purchase follow-on service contracts eliminating reliance on Russia for access to the International Space Station and other missions which take place or begin in Low Earth Orbit.

Plank - Congress shall allow NASA to cancel all existing Shuttle, Ares, and Space Launch System contracts terminating the $11 billion dollar earmark in 2010 NASA Authorization Law (Public Law 111-267). In addition, NASA shall competitively bid the development of any and all human exploration transportation capabilities.

Plank - NASA shall use competitions and prizes whenever feasible to stimulate the private sector, including individual American inventors, to achieve innovative and affordable solutions to technological challenges.

Technology Development

To accelerate the opening of the space frontier and settlement of space, the United States government should form appropriate partnerships with the private sector to cost-effectively develop technologies. NASA, acting as one of the principal agencies involved in space settlement, will play a primary role in these technology development efforts. Therefore:

Plank - NASA shall partner with the private sector to identify and fund the development of technologies which shall be useful for the development of a space economy, infrastructure, and settlement. The areas of technology that must be brought to a commercial operational market include (but are not limited to) those which:

* Lower transportation and operations costs for an ever-expanding list of destinations in space
* Mitigate detrimental effects resulting from the space environment on human physiology
* Enable local resources extraction and utilization

Plank - NASA shall partner with the private sector and fund milestone-based development of new technology. NASA must become more effective in transitioning high-risk high-reward technologies to commercial applications.

* Fuel depots
* Space tugs
* Space-based nuclear reactors
* Space-based solar power generation

Plank - NASA shall partner with the Department of Energy (DOE) and immediately resume production of plutonium (238Pu) to be utilized in outer solar system exploration.

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