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A NEW U.S. SPACE TRANSPORTATION POLICY
As Proposed by the Non-Profit Space Frontier Foundation
June 23, 2003

Purpose:
To incorporate into U.S. policy the approaches necessary to revolutionize the nation's ability to access space, emphasizing affordability, frequency, flexibility and reliability.

Summary:
The government monopoly on many space activities must be ended. The socialist model of NASA must be transformed to reflect the values of our free enterprise society, which will foster the development of a new industry for commercial space transportation services – as occurred in air transportation soon after the Wright Brothers flew.

PROPOSED LANGUAGE
COMMENTS
In order to enable the large-scale exploration, development and eventual settlement of space, it is the policy of the U.S. Government to significantly reduce the cost of space transportation, as quickly as possible. Since history has shown that market forces provide the best mechanisms for reducing prices, it is U.S. policy to promote the development of a robust, competitive, open space transportation commercial industry.
– America's goals in space must include more than simply performing science experiments if the American people are to support space efforts
– The language should be considered to apply to manned as well as unmanned systems, in Earth orbit and beyond
– Being robust requires a market offering multiple vehicles with overlapping capabilities such that no single system failure can cripple the industry and result in the loss of our ability to access space.
– A lesson definitely not learned after the first Space Shuttle was lost in 1986
– Being competitive requires the existence of multiple vehicle developers, manufacturers and operators, free to compete against one another but without fear of having to compete against the government.
– If the government owned and operated an airline, no one else would
– Being open requires availability to the public at affordable prices, aboard frequent and routine flights, resulting in not just more people in space but more private citizens in space.
– We know we're failing when we keep making new mission patches for every flight
– We'll know we've succeeded when there are space frequent flier clubs
The Commerce Department is a more logical candidate for leadership in this effort than NASA.
– NASA has shown no appreciation for the needs or importance of truly commercial ventures, nor any skill in fostering them
The previous policy which gave NASA sole responsibility for the development of Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs), and the DoD sole responsibility for the development of Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs), shall be considered null and void.
– This was possibly the single worst policy decision by previous space leadership in both NASA and the Clinton White House
– NASA's every attempt to pursue RLVs has been a hugely expensive failure
– DoD efforts in ELVs have been reasonably successful (the EELV)
NASA shall use commercial space transportation and transportation service contracts instead of developing its own systems.
– The private sector is best at developing and operating low-cost transportation systems
– Spacecraft design expertise resides in industry. NASA doesn't need to design spacecraft any more than Delta Air Lines needs to design 747’s
– Service contracts could (e.g.) procure a specified minimum number of launches during a specified period at a specified maximum price per launch (or per ton to orbit)
The government shall utilize the different strengths of NASA, DoD and the private sector by using each in its own unique role. NASA shall focus on scientific research and exploration of the Far Frontier beyond Earth orbit. The DoD, with its special mission of defending the nation, is best equipped to understand its space needs, and shall organize to meet its own unique space requirements.
Like NASA, the DoD shall use commercial systems, to the extent national security permits.
– Transformation of military space operations into routine, robust and responsive operations requires cheaper and more reliable space transport systems and architectures, comparable to commercial air services today
– Recent attempts to meet DoD needs through NASA programs have given consistently dismal results. These include the Shuttle, National Launch System (NLS), National Aerospace Plane (NASP), DC-XA "Clipper Graham," X-33/ Space Operations Vehicle, Hyper-X hypersonic testbed, Future-X, and Space Launch Initiative
– Much better results have come from DoD programs which go directly to industry to undertake fast, focused, limited technology demonstrations, such as the DC-X and X-40A (and as recently proposed for a DC-X follow-on, the Reusable Access to Space Technology [RAS-T] demonstrator)
The US government, fulfilling its proper role in the support of space transportation, will:

– Boost demand for space transportation services by acting as a reliable and impartial customer for those services (or anchor tenant where appropriate), including both manned and unmanned services;

– The Post Office didn't design an airmail plane – it contracted in the 1920’s for delivery of a plane
– Today, the Post Office does not own or operate the planes providing these services – why should NASA treat space differently?
– Promote the development of space transportation services (for both launching and in-space transport between orbits) by performing basic research, offering incentives for applied research, and purchasing space transport services, and performing research per commercial space industry requirements, while actively avoiding interference with market judgments about technical solutions;
– Note that this does NOT justify government operation or ownership of operational space transports – the government should buy only rides, not vehicles
– NASA's predecessor, NACA, propelled the aviation industry to world leadership by responding to industry's needs for R&D and treating industry like its customer, instead of the other way around
– Technology development demonstrators ("X-vehicles") are legitimate pursuits for government R&D, as risk reduction for industry
– Industry development efforts using taxpayer money should be rewarded only for results, not merely effort (refuse to fund white-collar welfare for endless engineering)
– The government should not try to judge the merits of competing technical solutions, but should instead allow that determination to be made by the market
– Provide supporting functions analogous to other transportation infrastructures, such as space traffic control, hazard mitigation, space "weather" forecasting and search & rescue (for manned craft);
– Similar to FAA and Coast Guard functions ("Space Guard")
– This is also compatible with asteroid impact threat monitoring
– Leverage military needs with commercial capability for cost efficiency. As with terrestrial operations, military support services for space shall be contracted out whenever practical.
– Follow current model of commercial support to military bases (for food, mail, fuel, etc.)
– Combine military and civil space launch facilities to share infrastructure, personnel, etc. (like civil/military airports)
– This should include launches, communications, on-orbit servicing (repair, orbit transfer, re-fueling, recovery), and miscellaneous logistics
– Where fully commercial ownership and operation of military space support services are not feasible, preference shall be given to arrangements wherein private owners make assets available to the military on a contingency basis, in exchange for appropriate government subsidy
– Analogous to present-day Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) system for airlines
– Replace the current ITAR regime, instead protecting national security by encouraging the growth and predominance of US space transportation firms through appropriate and profitable partnerships with businesses in nations friendly to the US;
– The current ITAR export restrictions are self-defeating because they make no distinction between friendly and hostile recipients, and only inhibit US industry while having little effect on technology proliferation to countries of concern
– Even friendly countries are refusing to work with American companies because of the mindless application of ITAR
– The Commerce Department may be better equipped than State to properly consider the industry impacts of such political determinations
– Ensure that clear, adequate and stable legal and regulatory regimes exist in which space transportation ventures can thrive;
– Citizens should be allowed to risk their own lives if they choose, such as by riding aboard launchers not as proven or reliable as airliners
– Foster the birth of new industries related to space transportation by providing appropriate tax incentives and regulatory relief, at least temporarily, and for as long as feasible.
– Such tax incentives will be revenue-neutral, since they will apply only to industries which do not currently exist, and might never exist without some government incentives
– Examples include suborbital transportation, and in-space repair and re-fueling services
– Regulatory relief should include easing some flight certification requirements that would otherwise prevent commercial use of private space vehicles
– Explain, in every instance in which a Federal agency fails to utilize a commercial provider of space services, why no commercial provider could be utilized, and do so in a written report available publicly.
– For example, when using "surplus" government launch vehicles, the agency responsible should be required to demonstrate that this option is really cheaper than other, commercial options

The Space Frontier Foundation is an organization of people dedicated to opening the Space Frontier to human settlement as rapidly as possible. Our goals include protecting the Earth's fragile biosphere and creating a freer and more prosperous life for each generation by using the unlimited energy and material resources of space. Our purpose is to unleash the power of free enterprise and lead a united humanity permanently into the Solar System.

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Our definition of a "frontier enabling" technology or policy is one which has as its effect the acceleration of the creation of low cost access to the space frontier for private citizens and companies, enables or accelerates our use of space resources, and/or accelerates the rate at which wealth can be generated in space. In other words, is the project or policy going to provide a return on the national investment, if we define "return" to be the economically sustainable human habitation of space?

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