Los Angeles, CA, September 6, 2002 – The Space Frontier Foundation, an oft time critic of NASA space policy, today praised the Johnson Space Center (JSC) and NASA Headquarters for their handling of pop singer and would-be cosmonaut Lance Bass’s training at the JSC astronaut training facility last week.
“This is NASA living truer to its charter,” said Foundation director William M. Boland, citing the Federal law requiring the agency to ‘seek and encourage, to the fullest extent possible, the commercial use of outer space’.
“Singing in harmony with NASA is not an altogether familiar situation for our Foundation”, said Boland, “but their most recent actions supporting the effort to fly Lance Bass definitely strike the right chord. Sure there’s a chance Lance won’t fly, and while we wish him well, NASA’s new openness and real life flexibility matters more in the long haul.”
Bass hopes to become the third ‘private astronaut’ to fly in space, following self-funded cosmonauts Mark Shuttleworth and groundbreaker Dennis Tito as a visitor to the International Space Station (ISS). Bass’ reception last week at JSC was in stark contrast to Tito’s, who bore the full brunt of former NASA Administrator Dan Godlin’s determination that he not fly to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. “That was a low point in our respect for NASA,” added Boland, “but JSC’s gracious reception of Mr. Bass for ISS training has been music to our ears.”
Although Mssrs. Tito and Shuttleworth paid for their own flight, Mr. Bass and his team have been trying to raise the funds based on his celebrity status and sponsor’s PR opportunities. “It’s an experiment in other ways of funding personal space flight, and like any experiment, there can be problems” said Foundation Founder Rick Tumlinson. “The Bass people may have started trying to raise the funds too late, and at this level of sponsorship development, it takes time for even the best ideas. The idea is still valid.”
Foundation Executive Director Tony DeTora summarized, “NASA played it just right; going on the assumption the deal would get done, rather than planning on failure. That is a very welcome development.”