Los Angeles, CA, February 8, 2001 As the 101st Space Shuttle flight launched into space, the Space Frontier Foundation called for the U.S. government to fix NASA's deeply flawed $5 billion Space Launch Initiative Program ("SLIP"), or cancel it altogether.
Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis in February 2001. Photo courtesy NASA.
Touted as a way to dramatically lower future launch costs, the Foundation sees SLIP as actually delaying the opening of space to free enterprise, and potentially destroying a fledgling commercial space transportation industry.
Foundation President Rick Tumlinson remarked, "SLIP will do just what its name implies; the opening of space to the people to slip far into the future." He continued, "This ill-conceived waste of billions of tax dollars does nothing but preserve the bloated, overpriced and inefficient methods we use to fly people and projects into space today, while crippling the private sector's ability to revolutionize space transportation tomorrow."
Space Frontier Foundation believes SLIP will keep private companies from developing new and innovative launch vehicles, since no firms want, nor can afford to, compete with the American government-sponsored Shuttle II program. The Foundation prefers NASA fulfill its own near-term needs through continued use and minor upgrades to today's Space Shuttle fleet, while feeding SLIP funds and activities to a young and innovative commercial space transportation industry.
"Now, when the private sector is ready to radically reduce the cost and ease of opening space, the same folks who gave us the million dollar toilet and the billion dollar X-33 Space Goose are once again saying, give us more money and we will do it for you," concluded Tumlinson.
The Foundation believes a much better plan would be for the U.S. to change SLIP into a three-step transformation of today's costly and inefficient space transportation system into one which supports the needs of the civilian, military and private space sectors. Their three point plan is:
||Provide broad-based financial and tax incentives to encourage investment in space plane ventures.
||Fund the development of experimental space planes or X-vehicles designed to demonstrate different approaches and technologies.
||Ban the development of government-designed and specified space planes, and purchase all launch and space transportation services from the private sector.
The Foundation coined the term "Cheap Access to Space" and has been a vocal leader in the fight for opening space to private enterprise for over ten years.
Click here to read the Foundation's 2001: A CATS Policy, A Cheap Access To Space Policy Recommendation.