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Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
No More Excuses: Cancel the Shuttle

CAIB Report cover
The Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report, released August 26, is an "indictment of NASA's ability to build and operate a space transportation system."
Los Angeles, August 26, 2003 – Responding to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's report, the Space Frontier Foundation today urged the government to foster competition for NASA, and end the Agency's monopoly on U.S. manned spaceflight.

"NASA had a chance to reform after losing a Shuttle in 1986," pointed out the Foundation's Executive Director, Tony DeTora. "The new accident report shows that many of the same habits which killed Challenger were still around to doom Columbia. There need to be fundamental changes in the way NASA operates or it's only a matter of time before we lose Atlantis or Discovery."

The Foundation believes the agency will not make major changes in its way of doing business. Instead it will try to get Congress to spend billions more tax dollars to develop yet another new vehicle using the same contractors and management teams that have failed to make space travel cheaper, faster and safer for the last 20 years. As an alternative, the Foundation reiterated its recommendations provided to the White House as part of the ongoing space policy review. It recommended that Washington foster a new commercial industry for human spaceflight, to provide affordable, frequent and safe space travel.

"The CAIB report is an indictment of NASA's ability to build and operate a space transportation system. The shuttles have failed to fulfill any of the promises made by the agency, so why should we let them continue to waste money and risk lives?" asked Foundation Founder Rick Tumlinson. The Foundation urged that government should never again design, buy or operate manned spacecraft, any more than it should operate airlines or build 747s. "NASA should learn to be a spaceflight customer, and stop trying to be a provider – and a socialist monopoly at that."

Under the Foundation's proposal, money currently spent on the Shuttle would be converted into financial incentives to foster a new spaceship industry that could serve both government and commercial markets. The organization believes there are many firms that would respond to a potential multi-billion a year market (the cost of 3-4 shuttle flights). Such competition would result in raising safety standards, and many more flight opportunities for science, industry and passengers, as well as dramatically lowering the cost of fulfilling NASA's own needs. But they fear inertia and the NASA contractor culture will kill any hope of change, unless Congress and the White House force it to happen.

"NASA is already preparing to repeat its unacceptable response after the first Shuttle tragedy: shuffling around the same managers, firing no one, pretending to reform, and then doing the same old things," Tumlinson pointed out. "This is as unacceptable as it is predictable! The White House and Congress must demand NASA do more than just rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic."


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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