Los Angeles, CA, November 1, 2000 – The Space Frontier Foundation congratulated NASA and the Russian Aerospace Agency today for the launch of the first crew to the International Space Station (ISS), and called for an international commission to be formed to begin moving the station out of NASA’s control, and into the private sector.
“We are pleased to see the ISS finally beginning to operate, and congratulate NASA and RSA for a successful launch,” stated Foundation President Rick Tumlinson. “Now NASA, as the dominant force in ISS, has the chance to hand space to the people who paid for it. They need to get out of the building management business, get back to exploring and facilitate a transfer of the station to a civic authority for its operations ASAP.”
Based on its history trying to build the facility, which is tens of billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule, and its repeated attempts to stifle or kill what it perceives as competing private sector initiatives, the Foundation does not believe that NASA is the right organization to run ISS.
The group is calling for the formation of a non-biased commercially oriented International Space Station Authority to take over its day to day operations as soon as possible. Instead of being a landlord, the Foundation is calling for the next president to put the space agency back on track as the world’s premiere exploration team.
“NASA is clueless about how to efficiently and fairly run this facility. They’re not interested in anything but their own budget, people and programs,” stated Tumlinson. “Worse, as they have shown with the commercial Mir station down the orbital street, they will try and destroy or sabotage any projects that are actually better, cheaper and faster than their own. If left in charge of ISS, NASA will actually inhibit the opening of space, not help it.”
The Foundation has long called for NASA to get out of the Near Frontier around the Earth and get back to exploring. It sees the ISS as an albatross around NASA’s neck, and wants money the agency saves by privatizing the ISS and shuttle to go into a vastly expanded program of exploration and science.