Open Letter To Congress On Commercial Space


image Dear Members of Congress:

We, the undersigned space leaders, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. We are writing to urge you to both (1) fully fund the commercial crew to Space Station program proposed in the President's FY2011 budget request for NASA, and (2) accelerate the pace and funding of NASA's human space exploration projects beyond Earth orbit.

These twin pillars of human spaceflight are each crucial to the long-term health of our Nation's space program. They are also interdependent.

And they will together generate thousands of high tech U.S. jobs for people in multiple states, including Florida, Alabama, Texas, California, Nevada, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and Maryland.

Among us are over 50 space leaders--former NASA executives and advisors, former astronauts, CEOs of firms large and small, a former FAA Associate Administrator, space scientists, space journalists, and others. We are a diverse group, but we are only a handful of the Nation's citizens who support U.S. leadership in human space flight in general, and the development of commercial human spaceflight in particular.

We specifically wish to express our concern that the commercial crew to Space Station program is sometimes seen as optional or too risky to America's future in space, but nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the commercial crew to Space Station program is a fundamental enabler of NASA's human space exploration beyond Earth orbit, specifically because it will free up the NASA dollars needed to develop deep space transportation and exploration systems for astronauts.

Moreover, a commercial crew to Station transportation system, involving multiple separate space lines as the President has proposed, is more robust than a single-legged transportation plan, whether domestic or foreign.

For these reasons and others, we fully and enthusiastically support both full funding for the commercial crew to Space Station program and also the acceleration of exploration beyond Earth orbit, as the top two priorities within NASA's human spaceflight budget.

Together, these two efforts will also:

  • Provide an affordable and fast way to close the current post-Shuttle gap in indigenous U.S. human orbital spaceflight capability, by using launch vehicles that already exist.
  • Provide a safe and robust future transportation network to low Earth orbit and beyond for U.S. astronauts. Ensure that our dependence on foreign human launch capabilities is reduced quickly and economically.
  • Reduce space access costs and enhance our national security industrial base.
  • Allow NASA to better focus on accelerating space exploration and the development of its enabling technologies.
  • Excite young Americans to careers in science, engineering, and technology.
  • Stimulate the private sector economy and the development of space commerce over in a dramatic way, by catalyzing other U.S. space interests such as space tourism and the operation of private in-space research facilities.
  • Excite entrepreneurs to envision and then give birth to new commercial services and capabilities in space, further stimulating the Nation's economy. Others have said that one of the greatest fears of any generation is not leaving things better for the young people of the next generation. We agree with this.
Therefore we reiterate that the near term development of commercial human spaceflight and a clearly defined program of human exploration beyond Earth orbit are both essential. Without either, our Nation's leadership in space will significantly suffer.

We urge you to make these two goals your highest priorities within NASA's FY2011 budget for human spaceflight.

Sincerely,

The undersigned, listed alphabetically

Mr. Bretton Alexander
President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Eric Anderson
President and CEO, Space Adventures
Vienna, Virginia

Dr. Daniel N. Baker
Director, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado

Dr. Jim Bell
Professor, Planetary Scientist, and Member of the Mars Exploration Rover team, Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

Capt. Ken Bowersox, Ret.
Former NASA Astronaut, and Vice President of Mission Assurance & Astronaut Safety, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Hawthorne, California

Mr. Chad Brinkley
President, DCI Services and Consulting
Houston, Texas

Ms. Heather Bulk
President and CEO, Special Aerospace Services
Boulder, Colorado

Mr. John Carmack
President and CEO, Armadillo Aerospace
Caddo Mills, Texas

Dr. Peter Diamandis
Chairman and CEO, X-Prize Foundation
Playa Vista, California

Mr. Frank DiBello
President and CEO, Space Florida
Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Dr. Michael Drake
Head, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

Mr. Art Dula
CEO, Excalibur Almaz
Houston, Texas

Ms. Esther Dyson
Principal, EDyson Ventures
New York, New York

Mr. Edward Ellegood
Director of Aerospace Development, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, Florida

Dr. Robert Farquhar
Senior Mission Designer, KinetX Corp.
Fairfax, Virginia

Mr. Jeff Feige
CEO, Orbital Outfitters
Los Angeles, California

Mr. Jim Foreman
President, Blue Smoke LLC
Houston, Texas

Dr. Owen Garriott
Former NASA Astronaut, and Aerospace Consultant
Huntsville, Alabama

Mr. Richard Garriott
Commercial Astronaut
Austin, Texas

Mr. Jeffrey Greason
CEO, XCOR Aerospace
Mojave, California

Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman
Former NASA Astronaut, and MIT professor
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mr. Richard Homans
Executive Director, New Mexico Spaceport
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Dr. Scott Hubbard
Former Director of NASA Ames, and Professor
San Francisco, California

Mr. Michael Joyce
President, Next Giant Leap LLC
Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Dale Ketcham
Director, Spaceport Research & Technology Institute
Meritt Island, Florida

Mr. Jim Kennedy
Former Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center
Cocoa Beach, Florida

Mr. Glenn King
Chief Operating Officer, NASTAR; Pennsylvania
Southampton, Pennsylvania

Mr. Bill Khourie
Executive Director, Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, Oklahoma Spaceport
Burns Flat, Oklahoma

Dr. Byron Lichtenberg
Former NASA Astronaut
Houston, Texas

Mr. Todd Lindner
Director, Cecil Field Spaceport, Jacksonville Aviation Authority
Jacksonville, Florida

Dr. John Logsdon
Founder, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University.
Washington, D.C.

Lt. Col. J. Mike Lounge, Ret.
Former Astronaut, and President, Cisneros Innovation Strategies
Houston, Texas

Dr. Stephen Mackwell
Director, Lunar and Planetary Institute
Houston, Texas

Mr. David Masten
CEO, Masten Space Systems Inc.
Mojave, California

Mr. Bill Mitchell
CEO, Environmental Tectonics Corporation
Southampton, Pennsylvania

Mr. James A.M. Muncy
Co-Founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Alexandria, Virginia

Dr. John Muratore
Former Space Shuttle Flight Director and University of Tennessee Space Institute
Tullahoma, Tennessee

Mr. Elon Musk
CEO and CTO, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Hawthorne, California

Mr. Miles O'Brien
Aerospace Journalist, and Managing Editor of "This Week in Space"
New York, New York

Mr. Rich Phillips
President, Phillips & Company
Austin, Texas

Mr. Joseph E. Palaia, IV
Manager, NewSpace Center, and Vice President, 4Frontiers Corp.
New Port Richey, Florida

Mr. Brian Rishikof
CEO, Odyssey Space Research
Houston, Texas

Dr. Rusty Schweickart
Former NASA Astronaut, and Aerospace Consultant
Los Angeles, California

Col. Richard Searfoss, Ret.
Former NASA Astronaut, and Chief Test Pilot, XCOR Aerospace
Mojave, California

Mr. Frank Sietzen, Jr.
Author, and Former Editor in Chief of Ad Astra Magazine of the National Space Society
Arlington, Virginia

Mr. Mark Sirangelo
Chairman, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems, and Chairman of the Board, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Lousville, Colorado

Mr. Frederick A. Slane
Executive Director, Space Infrastructure Foundation, Inc.
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Ms. Linda Kenny Sloan
President, Information Universe
Carson, California

Ms. Patti Grace Smith
Former FAA Associate Administrator, and Aerospace Consultant
Washington, D.C.

Mr. John Spencer
Founder and President, Space Tourism Society
Los Angeles, California

Dr. Alan Stern
Former NASA Associate Administrator for Science, and Aerospace Consultant
Niwot, Colorado

Dr. Frederick A. Tarantino
President ad CEO, Universities Space Research Association
Columbia, Maryland

Mr. Rick N. Tumlinson,
Co-founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Toluca Lake, California

Col. Jim Voss, Ret.
Former NASA Astronaut, and Director of Advanced Programs, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems
Louisville, Colorado

Mr. Robert W. Werb
Co-founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Nyack, New York

Mr. Stuart Witt
General Manager, Mojave Air and Space Port
Mojave, California

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