Congress Scores a Major Victory for Space Commercialization
The Space Frontier Foundation today hailed Congress’s cancellation of a federal satellite procurement program that needlessly duplicated private sector capabilities. The National Reconnaissance Office’s proposed Broad Area Space- based Imagery Collector (BASIC) program would have constructed two government-owned commercial- grade imaging satellites for launch in 2012 or 2013 at a cost of $1.7 billion.
Space Frontier Foundation Chairman Berin Szoka said, “Funding BASIC would represent a break from what is possibly the U.S. government’s most successful effort to promote space commercialization to date: By buying imagery it needs from commercial providers, the government has enabled the growth of a new geospatial data industry. This approach, which began in 2003, saves taxpayers money by sharing the capital cost of building expensive imaging satellites with commercial image buyers like Google and Microsoft. It has also brought the benefits of satellite imagery to the masses, as millions of Americans now take for granted the imagery they can access for free on websites like Microsoft Live Search and Google Maps.”
SFF Founder Bob Werb applauded the cancellation, saying, “The action by the House and Senate appropriations committees reflects a growing consensus that private space is doing the job. Hats off to the Congress for recognizing the potential of the NewSpace revolution!”
Szoka concluded, “If the U.S. Government thinks it needs more satellite imagery, it should buy commercial imagery rather than building new satellites whose full capacity won’t be used. Instead of reverting to the old way of doing business, we should be looking for opportunities to replicate the success of this commercial model in other space services.”