Group Letter To Congress and the Obama Administration Regarding NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

8 November 2011

Dear Members of Congress and the Administration:

We, the undersigned space leaders, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. Among us are former NASA astronauts, executives, and advisors, CEOs and directors of firms large and small, space scientists, space journalists, and others.

We write today to urge you to expedite plans to use commercial companies to carry crew to the Space Station. This effort is critical to the health of the Nation’s human spaceflight efforts.

More specifically, we are alarmed by possible congressional budget cuts to the $850M FY2012 budget request for NASA’s Commercial Crew program–the fastest paced and surest effort to restore US human access to orbit.

We are also alarmed by changes to NASA’s planned contracting and oversight methods that threaten to complicate and slow progress toward developing US capabilities to put American astronauts in orbit via the Commercial Crew program.

Together, these two threats are likely to lengthen our Nation’s gap in human space launch capability from 2015 to 2017 or 2018, or even later.

The deleterious impacts of these threats range from continued US dependence on Russian transportation to the International Space Station, to continued spending in Russia when the US aerospace sector is hurting, to the increasingly common perception that the US is no longer the leading nation in human spaceflight.

None of this is good–there is no silver lining here–not for our economy, not for our standing as a world leader, not for our investment in the International Space Station, and certainly not for NASA’s role in inspiring STEM education.

What should be done?

We urge the Congress to fund the development of commercial crew launch capabilities to orbit at or very close to the full $850M request level, even if that means slowing other new development efforts within NASA.

We ask the Administration to urge Congress to fully fund commercial crew programs and to direct NASA to facilitate the fastest possible commercial crew launch capability this Nation can achieve.

And we ask NASA to streamline the business and technical processes it imposes on its commercial crew providers with the goal of ending our human space launch capability gap as soon as is practically feasible.

We thank you for your commitment that our Nation regain its independent ability to put humans in space, and hope you will respond to our own concerns with strong leadership and swift action.

Sincerely,
The undersigned, listed alphabetically

Mr. Eric Anderson
CEO, Space Adventures
Seattle, Washington

Mr. Ken Bowersox, USAF Ret.
Former NASA astronaut
Vice President of Mission Assurance and Astronaut Safety
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Hawthorne, California

Mr. Andrew Chaikin
Space Historian and Author
Arlington, Vermont

Mr. James Cantrell
President and CEO, Strategic Space Development Inc.
Tucson, Arizona

Mr. Keith Cowing
Editor, NASAWatch.com
Reston, Virginia

Mr. Tom Crabb
President, ORBITEC
Madison, Wisconsin

Dr. Peter Diamandis
Chairman and CEO, X Prize Foundation
Playa Vista, California

Mr. Frank DiBello
President, Space Florida
Merritt Island, Florida

Mr. Art Dula
CEO, Excalibur Almaz
Houston, Texas

Mr. Edward Ellegood
Former Director, Spaceport Florida Authority
Director of Aerospace Development,
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, Florida

Dr. Robert Farquhar
Senior Mission Designer, KinetX Corporation
Fairfax, Virginia

Ms. Esther Dyson
CEO, EdVentures
Former Member, NASA Advisory Council
New York, New York

Mr. Walter Faulconer
President, Strategic Space Solutions, LLC
Columbia, Maryland

Dr. Owen Garriott
Former NASA Astronaut
Huntsville, Alabama

Mr. Richard Garriott
Space Adventures Astronaut
Austin, Texas

Mr. Andrew Gasser
President & National Coordinator TEA Party in Space
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Jeffrey Greason
CEO, XCOR Aerospace
Mojave, California

Mr. Gerald D. Griffin
Former Director, NASA Johnson Space Center
Former Deputy Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center
Former Deputy Director, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Hunt, Texas

Mr. Buckner Hightower
CEO, Excalibur Almaz, USA and EVP Excalibur Almaz, Ltd.
Austin, Texas

Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman
Former NASA Astronaut, and MIT professor
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Ketchum, Dale

Mr. Michael Joyce
President & Founder, Next Giant Leap LLC Google Lunar X Prize Team
Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Dale Ketcham
Director, Spaceport Research & Technology Institute
Merritt Island, Florida

Mr. Todd Lindner
Sr. Manager Aviation & Space Development, Jacksonville Spaceport
Jacksonville, Florida

Dr. John Logsdon
Founder, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Taber MacCallum
CEO, Paragon Space Development Corp.
Tucson, Arizona

Mr. Robert Meyerson
Program Manager, Blue Origin, LLC
Kent, Washington

Mr. Bill Mitchell
Chairman, Environmental Tectonics Corporation/NASTAR
Southampton, Pennsylvania

Dr. Jon Morse
Former Director, NASA Science Mission Directorate Astrophysics Division
Troy, New York

Mr. James Muncy
Co-Founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Alexandria, Virginia

Mr. Elon Musk
CEO and CTO, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Hawthorne, California

Dr. George D. Nelson
Former NASA Astronaut
Bellingham, Washington

Mr. Joseph E. Palaia, IV
Manager, NewSpace Center,
Vice President, 4Frontiers Corp.
New Port Richey, Florida

Mr. Bob Richards
CEO, Moon Express Inc., Google Lunar X-Prize Team
Mountain View, California

Col. Richard Searfoss, USAF Ret.
Former NASA/Shuttle Commander
Chief Test Pilot, XCOR
Mojave, California

Ms. Patti Grace Smith
Former FAA Associate Administrator, and Aerospace Consultant
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Joel Scotkin
CEO, Masten Space Systems
Mojave, California

Adm. Craig Steidle, USN Ret.
Former NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration,
Former President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

Dr. S. Alan Stern
Former NASA Associate Administrator for Science
Niwot, Colorado

Dr. Kathryn Thornton
Former NASA Astronaut
Charlottesville, Virginia

Mr. Lee Valentine
Chairman and Executive Vice President
Space Studies Institute
Mojave, California

Mr. Rick Tumlinson
Co-Founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Austin, Texas

Col. Jim Voss, USAF Ret.
Former NASA Space Shuttle Astronaut and Director of Advanced Programs, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems
Louisville, Colorado

Mr. George Whitesides
Former NASA Chief of Staff,
President and CEO, Virgin Galactic
Los Angeles, California

Mr. Stuart Witt
President, Mojave Spaceport
Mojave, California

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