Los Angeles, CA, January 12, 2006 – Although as divided as the rest of society over the issue of weapons in space, the Space Frontier Foundation endorsed the concept recently put forth by a group of entrepreneurial NewSpace firms that the U.S. should support the development of this new industry using an Air Force initiative called Operationally Responsive Space (ORS). Based on the idea that we need the ability to access space in a timely and affordable way, ORS is a perfect fit with the capabilities and needs of the emerging NewSpace industry.
“We don’t normally take positions on military issues, but we aren’t talking star wars or nukes here, as this is about communications, observation and soldiers. The Pentagon will spend billions of dollars on space no matter what we say, so at least some of the money spent to develop their swords can be funneled into ploughshares,” said the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson. “After all, the needs are similar. Be it humans or hardware, they both want assured delivery of small payloads on demand at low cost and high frequency.”
The Foundation points out that since the dawn of aviation, the military and civilian sectors have been partners. For example, the DC-3, 707 and 747 are commercial people carrying airplanes that were developed and funded by the military. The Foundation believes we can do the same thing in space.
“Basically what we’re saying is that the cooperation between military and civil needs prevalent in the early days of aviation is a dramatically better analogy for how this needs to be done than the disconnect we have had between civil or military space during the last 50 years,” said Tumlinson.
The Foundation is particularly pleased by the inclusion of recommendations that they have long supported, such as DOD using creative “purchasing and acquisition methods such as prizes” and working to “support a regulatory regime that encourages rather than inhibits the development of commercial human spaceflight.”
“We owe it to the taxpayers to drop old, expensive methods of purchasing goods and services for the military.” Said Foundation Chairman Bob Werb. “We also need a regulatory environment that isn’t so timid and risk averse that it ignores the risk to the whole of society if we fail to aggressively develop these capabilities,” he added.
At the same time the U.S. needs new approaches to space access, the investor funded NewSpace firms are developing low cost, reliable spaceships for business reasons, but they could use the funds and muscle of the government on their side to accelerate the growth of the industry. Thus the push for ORS reached a new level at a private meeting held just before the Foundation’s conference last October, known as an annual gathering place for the NewSpace community. The result of this meeting being the attached Consensus Document.
Concluded Tumlinson: “To defend freedom and prosperity in today’s world, nimble, creative and economically sustainable technologies are the key in all sectors. America needs the innovation represented by NewSpace firms. And the NewSpace firms need the support of America.”