Human spaceflight is one of the greatest enterprises America has ever undertaken--making discoveries, creating inventions, producing role models and educational motivations for our youth, and serving as a strong example of US world leadership.
Since the mid-20th century, NASA has led our Nation and the world in this great undertaking. Today, however, we no longer live in the 20th century--but instead the 21st century. This is a century with new challenges and also new opportunities.
If the United States wishes to continue its leadership in human spaceflight during these challenging economic times, setting an example for all the world to follow, we believe that it must vigorously support the development of new human spaceflight capabilities in the private sector.
We, the families of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew and founders of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education--heroes we lost to further the exploration of space--strongly support the continuation of human spaceflight under a new paradigm of commercially led efforts to low earth orbit, and government led efforts beyond.
We recognize that commercial development in human spaceflight is a new paradigm, but so was America's government-driven space program at its birth more than 50 years ago. Our nation and others have been quite successful in moving the aviation industry from a military and government led operation to a viable commercial industry; we believe a similar approach is now necessary in space.
We also recognize that the commercialization of space will bring new innovations, capabilities, public interest, and economies to the grandest of human endeavor. This will also allow NASA to focus on deep space exploration, as it should.
Such an approach to the continued exploration of space is a strong one for our country and our economy. We must not delay in shaping the future of human spaceflight for our next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts.
* June Scobee Rodgers, Ph.D., widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee
* Marcia Jarvis Tinsley, widow of Challenger payload specialist Gregory Jarvis
* The Honorable Steven McAuliffe, widower of Challenger Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe
* Cheryl McNair, widow of Challenger mission specialist Ron McNair
* Lorna Onizuka, widow of Challenger mission specialist Ellison Onizuka
* Charles Resnik, M.D., brother of Challenger mission specialist Judy Resnik
* Jane Smith Wolcott, widow of Challenger pilot Mike Smith
* Dr. Scott Parazynski, M.D., former NASA astronaut and Chairman of the Board, Challenger Center for Space Science Education
About the Challenger Center for Space Science Education
The Challenger Center for Space Science Education is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) education organization created in 1986 by the families of the astronauts from Challenger Space Shuttle "Teacher in Space" mission STS-51-L. Dedicated to the educational spirit of that mission, Challenger Center develops Challenger Learning Centers and other educational programs worldwide to continue the mission of engaging students in science and mathematics education.
Challenger Center for Space Science Education