Los Angeles, December 4, 2003 – The Space Frontier Foundation hailed today’s rollout of the new “Falcon” launch system by SpaceX Inc. as a symbol of major change in the commercial space arena. The group sees the new entrant in the space launch field as the first of several new orbital and sub-orbital systems that will help drive the cost of access to space downward, and open the frontier of space. Unveiled in front of the Smithsonian’s famous Air and Space Museum, the Foundation believes the rollout of the new rocket can help to alert Congress and White House that there is a new space industry arising in America, just at the moment when the old space establishment is faltering.
“It is time for those who direct national space efforts and policy to wake up and realize that there is a new game in town when it comes to the private space sector,” said Foundation Co-Founder Rick Tumlinson. “Many leaders have been wringing their hands in despair over the slow decay of our traditional old school space firms and institutions, but today, right there in front of them, is proof that a new order is rising in space.”
The group, while not endorsing any particular firm or company, has been calling for a revolution in space access, and supports the efforts of Alternative Space firms (Alt.Space). The Foundation sees SpaceX as just one example of positive change in the space industry. It contrasts the 18-month, low cost (less than $100 million) development time of the privately financed Falcon, with the multi-year, billion dollar plus government subsidized cost of rocket projects by traditional firms and agencies.
“SpaceX and the other Alt.Space efforts out there, such as Xcor, Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, Constellation Services, Armadillo and others, are demonstrating that it isn’t the space industry that is sick, it is the systems that we use to finance, develop, build and regulate them that is the problem,” stated Tumlinson. “There is a true genetic split occurring between the old aerospace industrial complex and the new Alt.Space movement, and projects like Falcon are only the beginning.”
The Foundation has long called for the government to support such innovative projects and firms as SpaceX through tax breaks and other investment incentives, regulatory streamlining, and changes in launch service procurement policies. The group believes that the U.S. can regain its leadership in space launch and at the same time lower the cost of space exploration, by changing how NASA, the Air Force, the FAA and other government entities approach space issues.
Tumlinson concluded, “Although self funded, the Falcon and other breakthrough space systems need to be nurtured by our government, not ignored, tripped up by regulations or competed against by taxpayer financed efforts to prop up the old ways of doing things in space. If we are to return to the Moon and begin the exploration of Mars economically and in a sustainable fashion, we must have a partnership that encourages innovation, new ideas and access to capital and government and commercial markets by the Alt.Space community. If this can be done, we will all win, and our children will have a bright tomorrow as they open the space frontier.”