Update on Shelby’s effort to kill NASA commercial cargo & crew
Here is an article by Rand Simberg explaining the issue in detail: Congress Threatens To Anchor Private Spaceflight With Extra Costs: A rent-seeking senator doesn’t want competition to shake up NASA jobs – Reason.com.
And here is a press release from the Space Frontier Foundation:
Silicon Valley, CA – The Space Frontier Foundation calls upon Americans to stop efforts by US Senator Richard Shelby (R, AL) to critically damage the emerging commercial spaceflight industry. The Senate FY 15 budget proposals calls for excessive and costly bureaucratic oversight that would not only increase costs for private launch companies exponentially, but delay the Commercial Crew Program by months, if not years.
“There is a reason the NASA COTS program worked so quickly and efficiently, and that reason was not due to paperwork and hard-nosed oversight,“said Foundation President James Pura. “Taxpayers could save billions of dollars by letting NASA fly lean, commercial U.S. rockets, and if that means loosening up traditional oversight practices, so be it. Lean, milestone-based payment systems are the way of the future, and let’s enable that process, instead of hindering it.“
The specific wording of the text calls for more transparency in commercial space operations by forcing companies to submit certified cost and pricing data to NASA. While this might seem logical on the surface, the cost in time, money, and labor of collecting this data is overwhelming for the companies involved. These frivolous and massively wasteful methods will end up hampering all parties involved – NASA, commercial companies, and government contractors alike.
“These rules are designed to protect the old, traditional System that has kept us from doing anything exciting with humans in space for decades – and will slam shut the door to space for decades more if allowed to become law,” said SFF Founder Rick Tumlinson. “If we ever want to return to the Moon, go to Mars, mine asteroids, or even be able to afford to get to and from our own space station, this language must be removed from the congressional bills right away.“
New commercial launch companies stand to shake up the space market in a big way. The launch costs for these companies are dramatically cheaper than the foreign space program which the United States is currently using. These reduced costs can only continue to drop as new and improved systems are employed, both in the vehicles themselves and in company logistics. New private spaceflight also brings immeasurable cultural benefits to the nation, including the ability for NASA to send explorers to more places, at far less cost.
The dreams and ambitions of entrepreneurs will have a chance to manifest themselves in real hardware in outer space. Seeking funding for experiments and larger space ventures from investors outside the government opens many opportunities, without the bureaucracy that has plagued NASA for decades. Now, the bureaucracy that imposes on NASA threatens to not only increase taxpayer money spent on launches, but also to stifle the ambitions of businesses that drive the current national space culture.
“There are people and companies out there who stand to make billions of dollars by supporting the status quo in space – and Senator Shelby is clearly supporting them – not the bigger picture – by doing this,” said Space Frontier Foundation Chairman Jeff Feige. “The irony is that jobs in Texas, California, Colorado, Virginia and several other states will be lost, but in its current configuration the very program this legislation aims to help will collapse under its own weight. We are beginning to see the emergence of new companies and real job growth in the space sector. Now is the time to embrace that future, not drag us back to the past.“