Unaffordable and Unsustainable: NASA’s Post Shuttle Transportation Strategy is a Failure

Unaffordable and Unsustainable: NASA’s Post Shuttle Transportation Strategy is a Failure

July 25, 2006 Press Releases

Los Angeles, CA, July 25, 2006 – The Space Frontier Foundation issued a White Paper today stating that NASA’s multi-billion dollar post-space shuttle transportation plans are in the initial stages of complete failure. As the first step in a long-term campaign, the Foundation’s White Paper, Unaffordable and Unsustainable? Signs of Failure in NASA’s Earth-to-orbit Space Transportation Strategy, shows the agency’s current effort is a dead-end that is both “unaffordable” and “unsustainable.”

The paper proposes specific solutions, many drawn from recommendations in the President’s Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy (hereafter “the President’s Commission”), a blue ribbon panel appointed by the President to give NASA direction on how to get America back to the Moon and on to Mars. NASA has chosen to ignore these recommendations.

Bob Werb, Chairman of the Space Frontier Foundation, explained, “America is the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world because we are better at business, not because we are better at bureaucracy. Using the power of the private sector is our nation’s best and only chance to have an affordable and sustainable human exploration program. NASA was told to do just that, and they have obviously and blatantly ignored this direction from the people who the President selected to give them guidance – with predictable results.”

The 18-page policy paper uses official NASA documents, the President’s Commission report, and statements by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to document how NASA’s plans to implement America’s Vision for Space Exploration are a clear rejection of the President’s Commission. Read more about the Foundation’s recommendations to fix NASA’s plans on Frontier Files Online. The report’s findings state that if the U.S. is to ever succeed in the long-term opening of space, including a return to the Moon and Mars, NASA must decisively transform its relationship with private industry, most immediately in low Earth orbit. The Foundation paper also describes how all of NASA’s major budget problems could be fixed with a few specific and decisive actions, and without an increase in NASA’s budget.

Jeff Krukin, Foundation Executive Director, said, “We must have a new partnership if this is going to work. The Commission stated that ‘NASA’s role must be limited to only those areas where there is irrefutable demonstration that only government can perform the proposed activity.’ Consistent with this recommendation, NASA should immediately cancel plans to send the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) to the International Space Station and use commercial carriers instead. The agency can then focus on the far frontier.”

In addition, the paper documents how the “gap in U.S. human spaceflight” is likely to be much larger than NASA has led politicians to believe, how the agency appears to have used a “bait & switch” tactic to ignore national security policies of the White House, and why U.S. commercial vehicles and the growing NewSpace industry are the solutions.

“The President’s Commission report used the word “commercial” over 40 times in describing how NASA could get us back to the Moon and on to Mars in a way that would allow us to stay and expand there,” remarked Foundation co-founder Rick Tumlinson. “Yet the agency is spending less than 1% of its budget on innovative commercial approaches. Just like the space station, we are watching another NASA train wreck in progress, and just like station, they are trying to hide the facts. However, station or no station, this time they must be stopped if we are ever to open space to the people. Stay tuned.”

Click here to download the White Paper as a PDF.