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Press Release
Media Contact: 800-787-7223 or press@space-frontier.org
NASA Space Station Plan Good News for NewSpace Firms, Bad News for Cost-Plus Contractors

ISS as of June 2005
International Space Station configuration as of June 2005. Artwork courtesy NASA.
Los Angeles, CA, September 19, 2005 – The Space Frontier Foundation strongly applauded NASA's plans to hire entrepreneurial companies to fly people and cargo to the International Space Station. While the focus in Washington is on NASA's desire to send astronauts to the Moon and Mars using old-fashioned aerospace cost-plus contractors, the agency's need to save money by getting out of the ISS support business is creating an opportunity for many exciting and innovative NewSpace firms.

“We have long argued there is no way NASA can both operate the Space Station and try to send people to the Moon and Mars on a budget without adopting commercial practices and working with the entrepreneurial NewSpace industry,” said Foundation co-founder Rick Tumlinson. “It is a happy irony that in order to feed the traditional cost-plus aerospace industry dinosaurs that NASA wants to build its new space ships, it has to enroll the new generation of space entrepreneurs to take over in Low Earth Orbit.”

The Foundation believes that NewSpace companies, and any other players who want to be paid for results rather than effort, should be permitted to prove themselves by carrying astronauts and supplies to the space station. While most of these firms are self- or investor-funded, government contracts and prizes could greatly accelerate their development and capabilities – to the benefit of all. In a dramatic break from past practices, NASA has explicitly called out ‘Commercial Crew/Cargo for ISS’ and said that its own proposed new Crew Exploration Vehicle will only be used for ISS “if needed.”

“Politically, this is a very risky move for NASA, as many who have long fed off the taxpayers are threatened,” said Bob Werb, Foundation Chairman. “The move, however small, towards market oriented programs is, for us, wonderful... and terrifying to those who thrive in the world of guaranteed profits.”

The Foundation is calling on the White House and Congress to aggressively defend these new initiatives. Money must be allocated and the agency's tendency to make creeping changes which ultimately kill innovation must be blocked. The group is also calling on all pro-frontier groups and individuals to protect what they feel may be a revolutionary change in how America does business in space.

“After several decades of repeated failure, the cost-plus contractors are trying to persuade Congress and the media that their failed approach is somehow less risky than a free competitive marketplace,” said Werb.

He concluded: “We applaud those parts of the new plan concerning ISS re-supply, transportation, competition and pay-for-performance contracting because for the first time NASA is willing to give capitalism a try. For now, we choose to ignore the parts we don't like because we've heard it all before.”

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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