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Press Release
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
Space Frontier Foundation Says: "Space Launch Initiative Program (SLIP): Fix It or Kill It"

February 2001Atlantis launch
Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis in February 2001. Photo courtesy NASA.
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.

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:

1. Provide broad-based financial and tax incentives to encourage investment in space plane ventures.
2. Fund the development of experimental space planes or X-vehicles designed to demonstrate different approaches and technologies.
3. 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.


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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