D-Day for NewSpace

D-Day for NewSpace

Commercial Space in Jeopardy, Call Your Senator TODAY

by William Watson

I urge American citizens interested in the affordable utilization and eventual settlement of space to take action against the attack on NASA’s new Commercial Crew Program by pork-hungry legislators.  Contrary to the White House’s request and recommendations of the Augustine Commission, Senator Bill Nelson‘s proposed NASA Authorization Bill slashes commercial space by $2.1 billion (up to 66%).  Virginia’s Senator Warner is ready to ride to the rescue with an amendment restoring full funding to the program, but he needs YOUR help to gain support from other Senators.

Warner’s amendment will go for vote in less than 36 hours! This is a simple up/down vote.  Does the US Senate want to preserve a few thousand politically important, government funded jobs for a few more years, or would it rather stimulate the creation of millions of new private sector jobs that will last into the 22nd century?  Friends of commercial space, now is the time to call your Senator to say, “Please support the Warner Amendment for commercial crew that will create over 10,000 jobs, and reduce our dependence on Russian rockets!”

Numerous experts, academic studies and presidentially-appointed commissions have been calling for a transformation of NASA’s relationship to the private sector – since long before the invention of the World Wide Web.  Now that there is a serious effort to accomplish this goal, it would be a terrible waste to have it derailed by old fashioned pork barrel politics.  This is your chance to make history in space policy and wake Congress from the Constellation Hallucination!  Arm yourself against Misperceptions Related to Commercial Spaceflight and call your Senator today!

Full information about the amendment and Committee Senators’ phone numbers are listed below.  Also below is information about Senator Udall‘s amendment to protect NASA’s CRuSR program, which will use new commercial suborbital vehicles to perform science experiments for NASA’s mission.  Please register your support for these two amendments!


Warner Amendment

“commercial crew / close the gap amendment”

This amendment, proposed by Senator Warner of Virginia, would close the U.S. human spaceflight gap by fully reversing cuts to commercial crew development funding and by removing arbitrary restrictions preventing a commercial crew competition from beginning in 2011.  The amendment would boost commercial crew funding to the level recommended by the President, adding $2.1 billion over three years, a nearly threefold increase.  This will reduce our reliance on Russia for human spaceflight capability and ensure U.S. access to the International Space Station.


Udall Amendment

“commercial suborbital science amendment”

This amendment, proposed by Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico, would bolster a small but high-profile program designed to allow students, small companies, and researchers to fly experiments aboard new commercial suborbital space vehicles such as those being developed by Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace.  The amendment would ensure that this program, known as Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR), would be fully funded at $15 million per year and would report directly to NASA’s Chief Technology Office to give it high-profile status.


Committee Senators Call List


Alaska Begich 202-224-3004
Arkansas Pryor 202-224-2353
California Boxer 202-224-3553
Florida Nelson 202-224-5274
Hawaii Inouye 202-224-3934
Massachusetts Kerry 202-224-2742
Minnesota Klobuchar 202-224-3244
Missouri McCaskill 202-224-6154
New Jersey Lautenberg 202-224-3224
New Mexico Udall 202-224-6621
North Dakota Dorgan 202-224-2551
Virginia Warner 202-224-2023
Washington State Cantwell 202-224-3441
West Virginia Rockefeller (Chair) 202-224-6472


Florida LeMieux 202-224-3041
Georgia Isakson 202-224-3643
Kansas Brownback 202-224-6521
Louisiana Vitter 202-224-4623
Maine Snowe 202-224-5344
Mississippi Wicker 202-224-6253
Nebraska Johanns 202-224-4224
Nevada Ensign 202-224-6244
South Carolina DeMint 202-224-6121
South Dakota Thune 202-224-2321
Texas Hutchison (Ranking Member) 202-224-5922



  • […] Full story… Honestly, this site needs to find a writer that doesn’t sound like a pissed off college kid that drank too many Red Bulls! Share var button = document.getElementById('facebook_share_link_933') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_icon_933') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_both_933') || document.getElementById('facebook_share_button_933'); if (button) { button.onclick = function(e) { var url = this.href.replace(/share.php/, 'sharer.php'); window.open(url,'sharer','toolbar=0,status=0,width=626,height=436'); return false; } if (button.id === 'facebook_share_button_933') { button.onmouseover = function(){ this.style.color='#fff'; this.style.borderColor = '#295582'; this.style.backgroundColor = '#3b5998'; } button.onmouseout = function(){ this.style.color = '#3b5998'; this.style.borderColor = '#d8dfea'; this.style.backgroundColor = '#fff'; } } } Posted in Commercial Space, Congress, Constellation, NASA […]

  • […] space advocates like the Space Frontier Foundation are sounding the alarm about the bill and endorsing the Warner amendment. “Does the US Senate want to preserve a few thousand […]

  • USA space engineer says:

    You guys in commercial need to go at this on your owe dime.. without NASA funding.. then you will earn the right to call your self a real launch company.. There is no money in space.. it costs too much, otherwise why would'nt Lockheed or Boeing just build their own rockets… If your not willing to admit yet, you will soon learn there is NO money to be made in Space.. ____The USA needs a heavy lift vehicle that can do the work of the nation, not line the pockets of commercial owners like Musk with federal dollars.. I'm all for you guys stepping up to the plate and giving it a swing.. but you need to do it with private capital and prove to the world that it can be done and is flying..

  • Jim S says:

    Those who think that there is no money in space, or that commercial providers of launch services are NOT pursuing (and obtaining) financing the way "normal" start-ups do need only take a look at the long and lengthening history of global private satellite launches, together withSpaceX's posted launch manifest for the next several years. The latter contains a healthy mix of flights under government contract (COTS and other GCs — government contracting being a time-honored means for innovative start-ups to obtain needed funds and needed legitimacy in the eyes of traditional private investors), as well as launches for a mix of international and domestic customers (Argentina, Isreal, ESA, Orbcomm, Bigelow, as well as the Iridium replacement launches valued at approx. $450 million – reportedly the largest satellite deal ever). A look at published cost estimates for the entire SpaceX infrastructure since the company's founding in 2002, which include three launch complexes (at Vandenburg, Omelek Island in the Pacific, and Canaveral NAS) , the test facilities in MacGregor, Texas and the plant in Hawthorne, CA (not to mention payroll for the fledgling company's now 1,000+ employees, run to approx. $500-600 M. (Cont'd)

  • Jim S says:

    (Cont'd) Less than half of that has come from COTS funding: the rest is from Musk's personal investment, other private investment, and operating income. Why SHOULDN'T the taxpayer welcome a plan for NASA to encourage a few more like that? More to the point, why should such a plan be cast (and/or denigrated) as a Commercial v. NASA incompatibility?

  • john says:

    After we pay you boys to develop a sustem, do we get a discount on tickets
    or is this just another bailout like Crysler?

    • Jim S says:

      NASA is not paying for the development of a system (though there can be no doubt that payments under COTS, together with other revenue streams (see my earlier comments) have been and will be used to offset development costs): the NASA COTS program makes progress payments for a) milestones reached and b) launch services provided pursuant to negotiated Space Act agreements between the individual COTS awardees and the Agency (i.e., payment for performance — not open-ended "whatever it takes" cost-plus contracting). Contracts are negotiated because each of the participants wants something: one side usually wants money, the other side usually wants goods or services in exchange for its money. That's American as apple pie and is fundamental to our (still) profit-motivated Capitalistic economic system, as well as our governmental and legal structures that support that system. I don't see ANY relationship between Chrysler or any other "bailout."

  • steven says:

    Mr. William Watson says… "affordable utilization and eventual settlement of space".
    Let's see here…
    The home I grew up in cost $21,000. The same home now cost 150,000. I called a real-estate person a year ago
    and asked… should the price of homes always go up? She laughed and replied "yes, it should".
    So, my grand daughter's starter home will cost about 400,000… almost a half million dollars.
    She laughed ans said, "well, my grand mother did not worry about the price I would have to pay".

    My point is… I cannot find a company here on this planet that will pay for my modest home. Do you folks really expect
    people to leave their nice 400,000 starter home for that… hmmm… 20,000,000 starter ballon floating around in space?

    How will that work out do you think?

    • Jim S says:

      There's a big difference between a modest home and a revenue generating or scientific space facility . . . and a big difference between the way the two are valued and priced.

  • S.W. says:

    Appreciate the info provided in the link "Misperceptions Related to Commercial Spaceflight." Very helpful. Thank you.

  • […] TIME: An important space vote today. More from the Space Frontier Foundation, which urges you to call your Senator to support the privatization of NASA functions. I agree. […]

  • Steven says:

    To Jim S.
    The "revenue generating or scientific space facility " I am assuming would be the "affordable utilization" part…
    so I wonder what he means by the "eventual settlement " part? You did not comment on that part did you?

    • Jim S says:

      I can't speak to what Mr. Watson meant by "eventual settlement," but I can tell you that the "eventual settlement" of space has long been a driving concept at the Space Frontier Foundation, Mr. Watson's employer. (It's also been rumored to be a key reason why many NASA employees and contractors get up every morning, year after year, and drag themselves into work at their various facilities: like the SFFers, many of them, too, believe that what they are doing is making a contribution to the eventual settlement of space by and for all humankind — it's really not an "us against them" situation . . .

  • richard40 says:

    I normally support privitization of government functions, and thus initially was inclined to support this. What worries me here is most of the people pushing this seem to be democrats. When have the dems ever supported privitization of anything?? It makes me worried that their is a hidden agenda at work, like an attempt to gut NASA and future manned space operations. Obama enhanced this suspicion when he came out with that absurd statement about the top priority of NASA being Muslim outreach, with no mention of NASAs primary mission, space exploration. Obama, and most of the dems dont give a hoot about space exploration, so I can't trust them on this issue.

  • Burt Rutan's craft will be soon making sub-orbital flights and was DDT&E'd without a gov't hand-out. Why do SpaceX, Orbital, and all the other "commercial" rocket companies need our money to develop their commercial wares? I mean, Boeing doesn't hit up the U.S. gov't for funds when it starts a new jet-liner program.

    Anyway, this is a done deal. The White House will announce its support of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 later today, reversing itself on depending solely on "commercial" venders to get American astronauts in space. NASA will, under the Act, develop an evolvable HLV that, should the commercial vendors run into difficulties, will be able to serve ISS missions. Orion continues.

    And any commercial launchers have to jump through hoops to get funding, so no more freebie contracts to the likes of vendors who don't fulfill their contractual terms, such as SpaceX, which owes NASA three more Falcon 9 launches this fiscal year under its COTS terms but will only launch once more. I wonder why SpaceX doesn't get the treatment by NASA that Kistler did?

  • […] by the outcry over NASA’s new direction, many have opinions on the future of NASA. The Space Frontier […]

  • […] Last week I urged American citizens interested in the affordable utilization and eventual settlement of space to take action against the attack on NASA’s new Commercial Crew Program by pork-hungry legislators in the Senate.  This week members of the House of Representatives are trying to steal away your space frontier future, just to preserve the Space-States’ status quo.  Contrary to the White House’s request and recommendations of the Augustine Commission, Representative Bart Gordon’s proposed NASA Authorization Bill slashes commercial space by 95%, reducing it to $250 million over 5 years instead of the proposed $6 billion over five years.  The House version of the “NASA Irrelevancy Act of 2010″ also adds extremely heavy restrictions to commercial crew spending, designed to delay the program’s start. […]

  • […] for the future, many of whom arrived just in time to help turn the tide. From what I have heard the calls and letters and meetings held by regular folks who see their stake in this really added up. And several leaders in the House […]