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NASA Internal Memo: Official Overarching Messages Regarding Shuttle Retirement

Status Report From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2011

image From: Coats, Michael {Jsc-Center-Director}(JSC-AA111)
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:31 AM
To: JSC-DL-JSC-Civil-Servants; JSC-DL-JSC-Contractors
Subject: FW: Overarching Messages

Overarching Messages

End of the Space Shuttle Program: A Legacy to Build On

* We salute the thousands of men and women who have made the shuttle program a success both on the ground and in space. Their legacy is historic, and we will build on it as we develop the next transportation systems to support the human exploration of space.

* We are not ending human space flight, we are recommitting ourselves to it and taking the necessary - and difficult - steps today to ensure America's pre-eminence in human spaceflight for years to come.

A New Vision for Human Spaceflight

* President Obama has laid out an ambitious vision for human spaceflight that will take American astronauts beyond where we've ever been before - with the ultimate goal being a human mission to Mars.

o This plan speeds up the development of technology to take us deeper into space and anticipates travel to a series of destinations including asteroids, our own Moon, the moons of Mars, and eventually Mars itself.

* The President's vision - negotiated with bipartisan support from Congress - allows NASA to focus its resources on exploration and innovation, while leveraging private sector resources to continue taking Americans to the International Space Station in low Earth orbit whose mission has been extended until at least 2020.

* This new strategy means more jobs for the country, more American astronauts in space over the next decade, and more investments in innovation relative to the prior Administration's plan. It will result in a longer operating lifetime for the International Space Station and new launch capabilities that will become available sooner and enable travel to multiple destinations and frontiers in space.

Important History to Remember

* The Bush Administration in 2004 made the decision to end the Space Shuttle program. President Obama extended the program's life by adding two Space Shuttle launches to the manifest: STS-134, which was funded in the President's FY 2010 Budget Request; and STS-135 which was funded as part of the agreement that the President reached with Congress for FY 2011 funding.

* An independent commission found that the previous Administration's plan for human spaceflight in the post-Shuttle era was not viable under any feasible budget scenario. Among other challenges, it would have left NASA without the ability to get to the International Space Station until after it was de-orbited in 2016, and weakened other important NASA priorities including science, aeronautics, and technology development.

* Under the new plan, six-member crews will be living and working aboard the International Space Station 24/7 until at least 2020. The ISS will be the centerpiece of our human spaceflight activities for the coming years, and the research and technology breakthroughs aboard ISS are expected to facilitate our travel to destinations beyond low Earth orbit.

* Utilizing the commercial sector for space travel is not a risky new idea. Commercial contractors have built every spacecraft that has ever taken an American into space, from the Mercury capsule to the Shuttle. However, by catalyzing a new partnership between NASA and an increasingly capable space industry--and to be clear, it is a partnership with NASA oversight, not a simple hand-off--we anticipate achieving a greater U.S. crew-launch capability sooner and at lower cost to the taxpayers than under the previous plan. Through this new partnership, NASA will be able to get the most bang for its buck and allow it to focus its limited budget on exploring deep space and venturing beyond low Earth orbit for the first time in 40 years.

* The industry has logged an impressive number of successes in recent years, offering strong evidence they will be more than up to the job. And of course NASA will retain its authority to ensure that those vehicles meet the highest standards of safety.

Support for the Florida Space Coast

* Florida is critical to the continued success of the U.S. space program, and the Obama Administration is making smart investments in the State's future.

* The Bush Administration in 2004 made the decision to end the Space Shuttle program. President Obama extended the program's life by adding two Space Shuttle launches to the manifest.

* NASA has established the Commercial Crew Program Office at the Kennedy Space Center to manage the commercial space activities that will be critical to the nation's future space flight.

* The President's fiscal year 2012 budget recommends a nearly $2 billion investment in the programs at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), including a launch Infrastructure and modernization program, and $5 million for the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center.

* The Administration has approved $15 million for Brevard county workforce assistance through a National Emergency Grant. Half of these funds have been received and the remainder is expected sometime between FY11 and FY12.

// end //

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