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Press Release
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
Foundation Calls For New Space Vehicle Fleets

Los Angeles, CA, May 23, 1997 – The Space Frontier Foundation, citing the huge costs of the Space Shuttle program, called today for an open national debate on how to achieve cheap access to space. According to the Foundation, a national space policy organization, the confused state of federal launch vehicle development is wasting vast sums of money, while dragging down both large scale human Solar System exploration and a potential major economic boom in space.

Referring to the Shuttle-Mir mission now underway, Foundation President Rick Tumlinson stated: "People are impressed by the spectacular images of the Space Shuttle and the Russian station, but the fact is we are spending $400 million dollars to launch some supplies, exchange astronauts and bring back a load of trash. Meanwhile, back on Earth, NASA spends a billion dollars on the X-33 single stage to orbit rocket program it says will lead to reusable commercial rocket ships in the next decade, just as the Defense Department spends $9 billion on traditional expendable rockets. It's crazy."

The Foundation advocates the following solutions: a fully privatized space shuttle fleet; more X-vehicles to advance a variety of technologies; changes in regulations so that small entrepreneurial launch firms are freed to develop new systems; and new methods of purchasing launch services by the government to spur competition and end its monopoly on human space access. To further this cause, the Foundation is bringing together government and commercial space leaders for a NASA sponsored symposium it will host on Capitol Hill, July 21-22.

Concluded Tumlinson: "There are very basic reasons that some 30 years after the beginning of the space race there are only ten people (all government employees) in orbit. The world's current government designed and operated launch systems are too expensive, too unreliable and too dangerous. The Foundation and leaders within the space industry and NASA all recognize this fact, and we want to work together to find solutions. We know that if we are to ever open space to the people, we need a space transportation system that operates the way our airline industry does today."

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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The Frontier Enabling Test
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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