Foundation Lauds Rohrabacher Bill on Commercial Space; Astronaut Says Private Spacecraft May Beat Shuttle to Space

Foundation Lauds Rohrabacher Bill on Commercial Space; Astronaut Says Private Spacecraft May Beat Shuttle to Space

October 12, 2003 Press Releases

Los Angeles, October 12, 2003 – The Space Frontier Foundation yesterday strongly endorsed federal legislation enhancing commercial space development introduced by U.S. Rep. Dana Rorhabacher (R-CA) in Congress. The bill lowers regulatory hurdles for commercial space projects, while protecting safety and the environment.

Speaking at the Space Frontier Foundation’s annual conference, Rorhabacher, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space and Science, said he introduced H.R. 3245, the Commercial Space Act of 2003, to protect America’s budding commercial space industry.

“I’m very excited by what new space pioneers are doing by building these private rockets,” he said. “There will be spillover from what they are doing that will affect NASA and DOD in a very positive way. What we have to do is make sure these projects are not taxed or regulated into oblivion.”

Former Space Shuttle Commander, retired Air Force Colonel Richard Searfoss, also endorsed the legislation at the conference, adding the startling prediction that “the next time Americans go into space on an American vehicle, it may very well not be on a Space Shuttle,” alluding to progress being made in several privately funded projects to which Rohrabacher referred.

Searfoss, who flew three shuttle flights, including as Commander on STS-90, a 1998 Spacelab flight, said while there are many great accomplishments by NASA, a “grand strategy vision” is missing from government space circles. “The [commercial space] community must come together in a grand strategy, and create more public awareness and acceptance.”

Foundation Executive Director Tony DeTora said, “This legislation is the best hope we have as a country to get the private sector leading the way in human space flight. It’s the new vision for the future in space. We congratulate Congressman Rohrabacher and his colleagues for their vision and willingness to push this legislation through to reality.”

The conference, “Alt.Space 2003,” was held October 10-12 at the Sheraton Four Points hotel in Los Angeles.