The Space Frontier Foundation is celebrating a cosmic holiday gift: NASA’s impending announcement that it will buy commercial cargo transportation services to resupply the International Space Station. The U.S. civilian space agency is expected to award over $3 billion in firm-fixed-price contracts to two U.S. firms, NASA’s first-ever commercial service purchase for a major human space flight program.
Space Frontier Foundation co-founder James Muncy said, “The Space Frontier Foundation has been advocating that NASA buy commercial goods and services since the early 1990s, and today we declare ‘Victory!’ Back in 1995, we delivered Congressional testimony calling for the government to enable the American people ‘to do things in space rather than doing space for them.’ It’s surprising how many bureaucrats opposed the idea of free enterprise approaches in human spaceflight, but we never gave up. Today, we applaud this historic announcement as ‘one small step’ for NASA, and ‘one giant leap’ for humanity’s future in space.”
The Space Frontier Foundation testified to Congress three times (March 16, 1995; April 9, 1997; and October 1, 1998) on the critical importance of requiring NASA to buy its space transportation services in a commercial manner. Members of the Foundation then led and organized grassroots congressional lobbying campaigns, which resulted in over 1,000 congressional briefings. This grassroots work was critical to passage of the “Commercial Space Act of 1998“, which mandates that NASA buy space station cargo delivery services using commercial-style firm-fixed price contracts. Foundation members helped persuade the Clinton Administration to create the Alternative Access to Station (AAS) program in 2000. Finally, Foundation members persuaded the Bush White House to create the ISS Crew/Cargo Services program in 2004, which culminates in the contracts to be announced today by NASA.
Foundation Chairman Berin Szoka said, “Today is a day of celebration for the NewSpace community and for those people who believe in the power of capitalism to improve humanity’s future. We congratulate the winners, but we also want to thank all those inside Congress, two Administrations, and NASA who helped make this day happen. The American people thank you. By working to enable the private sector, the U.S. government is finally doing its part to help open the Space Frontier for the rest of us.”