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Press Release
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
NASA Should Re-Start Alternative Access to Space Station ASAP! Secret Decision to Kill Program a Mistake

PLS alternative access vehicle
The AAS program had already inspired several entrepreneurial U.S. firms to begin developing low cost ways of delivering freight to the ISS. Artwork courtesy NASA.
Los Angeles, CA, April 16, 2003 – At the same moment NASA is making plans to possibly shut down the International Space Station due to its inability to re-supply the $70 billion dollar facility, some managers at the agency are trying to gut a program that would solve the problem in years to come. Citing NASA plans to possibly de-staff the ISS due to its inability to ferry supplies to the orbiting facility, the Space Frontier Foundation is calling for NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe to re-start the agency's Alternate Access to Station (AAS) program as soon as possible. Slowly being killed behind the scenes, the innovative $310 million dollar program would cost less than one shuttle flight, and was on track to kick start several low cost solutions to the very problem NASA says is causing them to consider shutting down their flagship project.

"Why would the agency shoot itself in the foot by canceling the best hope it has to get low cost freight delivery to and from the station?" asked the Foundation's Rick Tumlinson. "Why are they trying to do it without anyone noticing? And why now, when they desperately need it?"

The Foundation points out that in the long term the AAS program gives station managers a back-up for the Shuttle and Progress/Soyuz systems that threatens neither. The group believes NASA is making a major mistake that can still be corrected in time to save the ISS's long term future, and help create a whole new set of U.S. space transportation options for different types of payloads.

"NASA managers with their own agendas must quit playing games with the taxpayer's money and get this program back on track before it's too late," said Tumlinson. "AAS offers a free enterprise means for NASA to buy low cost transportation to ISS that will save millions and, as the name implies, give them an alternative to the systems they use now." He continued: "If the agency has a funded, low cost possible solution to prevent the slow death of this huge project and doesn't use it, Mr. O'Keefe and the White House will have to explain it to the American people. He needs to make a call now and do the right thing."

The AAS program, which had been allocated around 62.7 million for fiscal 2003, had already inspired several entrepreneurial U.S. firms to begin developing low cost ways of delivering freight to the ISS. The Foundation believes it would have helped catalyze a new industry that over time could dramatically lower the cost of all space activities. Members of Congress are calling for the program, which has widespread support outside of the agency, to re-instate the funds and get the program back on track, in light of the Columbia tragedy.

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 High Frontier is Gerard K. O'Neill's masterpiece. This new 3rd Edition Includes an introduction by Freeman Dyson.
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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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