Nyack, NY, March 3, 2008 – Quietly, America’s space agency took an unprecedented step to a free and open frontier in space, with the February 28th release of the ISS Commercial Resupply Services draft request for proposals. The document symbolically represents a dramatic turn of direction for NASA, which has a long history of designing everything in-house and limiting itself to the use of cost-plus contracts.
“This baby step toward buying space station cargo services in a commercial-like manner is the beginning of a trend we like,” Space Frontier Foundation Chairman Bob Werb said. “I look forward to the day when government will buy all needed launch services from commercial industry. I’m thrilled to put aside any concerns for the moment and celebrate this important step toward a free and open space frontier.”
The Space Frontier Foundation has been urging NASA to commercially procure ISS cargo services for more than twelve years. The Foundation’s then-President, Rick Tumlinson, first testified to Congress on March 16, 2005 that “we must require all cargo and crew transfers to and from the U.S. elements of the station be commercially bid by American private vendors.”
On April 9, 1997 the Foundation testified to Congress that, “It is absolutely imperative that NASA gets out of the space transportation operations market.”
On October 1, 1998, the Foundation testified to Congress that, “We should take the first steps to privatize the International Space Station now,” and “The Space Frontier agenda calls for competition and open market purchase of (space transportation) services.”
Will Watson, SFF Executive Director, praised the space agency.
“We congratulate NASA on making this critical move towards finally proceeding with a commercial ISS cargo services acquisition,” he said. “At the same time, NASA must be accountable for any failure here. NASA has had 10 years to prepare for this acquisition since the Commercial Space Act of 1998 became law. If they mess it up, they should look in the mirror first for somebody to take responsibility.”
NASA is requesting industry comments to the ISS Commercial Resupply Services DRFP. The Foundation believes there may be significant problems with this first attempt by the old-NASA to operate in a new manner. Therefore, the Space Frontier Foundation encourages all industry leaders to read the draft carefully and send comments to NASA by March 13, 2008. Find the DRFP at: http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/eps/eps_data/128918-DRAFT-001-001.doc.