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Press Release
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
Will Senate Solve Crisis in Space Launch Industry?

Los Angeles, CA, June 10, 1997 – The Space Frontier Foundation called on the United States Senate to act quickly to solve a looming crisis in the U.S. space launch industry. According to the Foundation, a national citizens' space policy organization, several companies are developing reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) that will radically lower the cost of space access. But no government agency currently has the authority to license the reentry of these RLVs.

"The House of Representatives has already passed one bill this year that provides the FAA with the authority to license these companies. But without prompt Senate action, those companies will have to operate overseas, killing American jobs, or not at all." stated Foundation President Rick Tumlinson.

"We're on the brink of an incredible revolution in the way we get to and from space. It will save taxpayers money and open up the space frontier to American industry. But the revolution won't happen unless the Congress passes this legislation. We can't afford for the Senate to take its time on this bill," Tumlinson added.

The FAA's Advanced Space Transportation office (AST) has the statutory authority to license commercial launches into space, but not the reentry of either payloads or vehicles. Firms developing these new spacecraft, which operate more like airplanes than ballistic missiles, cannot legally test their vehicle's reentry capabilities, let alone begin regular commercial operations. The House-passed Civilian Space Authorization Act (HR1275) and newly-introduced Commercial Space Act of 1997 (HR1702) both authorize AST to create the necessary regulations.

Tumlinson concluded: "Billions of dollars are at stake here. The U.S. is in a position to leapfrog years ahead of other nations in commercial space transportation, just as it did in the aviation industry. A number of companies are ready to take the risk, but government needs to support them by moving quickly and decisively. We need the Senate to act ASAP."

The media is invited to attend a Foundation hosted NASA-sponsored symposium on this and related issues July 21-22 at the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency in Washington D.C.

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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