Coaltion White Paper Calls for Stable Space Budgets, Funding SLS & Commercial Crew


In an election season pretty much devoid of serious discussion of space policy, if even for a moment, a coalition of space organizations has released a white paper titled “Ensuring U.S. Leadership in Space.” The event took place at a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

The paper (pdf) is available here, but the key points can probably be found in the call for full funding for both SLS and Commercial Crew.

From the white paper:

Restore American access to space.

The U.S. must regain the ability to launch its own astronauts into space and bring an end to the practice of buying astronaut seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. There are two complementary, viable pathways to achieving U.S. independence in human space operations and both must be fully funded and vigorously pursued. Both systems expand safety, innovation, scientific research and technology development, and strengthen our industrial base:

• The Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle are NASA’s next-generation human transportation systems to explore farther into the Solar System than ever before. These programs have enjoyed bipartisan and bicameral support and have made significant progress toward a renewed U.S. capability to send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the first time in more than 40 years, opening the door to missions in cis-lunar space and eventually to Mars.

• NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo programs have also received bipartisan, bicameral support. Commercial Crew is the logical progression of the agency’s Commercial Cargo program, enabling multiple commercial companies to operate cargo transportation to the ISS. Robust and competitive access to the ISS for cargo and the new crew vehicles that will once again launch Americans from American soil provides a new model for ISS access while strengthening the industrial base and helping to enable new commercial space services markets.

And here is what AIAA has to say about the work.

The work highlights and addresses the challenges facing continued U.S. exploration and use of space, and the need for the next administration and Congress to make space policy a priority. The paper offers sensible policy solutions to the four most common challenges that continued space exploration and use efforts face – unpredictable budgeting, foreign competition, the hostile space environment, and workforce trends.

“Through this white paper, 13 organizations have united to send the message that space exploration and use, and the policies that govern them, are critical to the long-term prosperity of our nation,” said Sandy Magnus, AIAA executive director. “If the United States is to remain a leader in the global space endeavor, it is critical that a long-term commitment with resources, backed by a comprehensive strategy, be established. From the outset, the next administration and the new Congress must make space and space policy a priority and strive toward a collective bipartisan vision and plan for U.S. engagement in space. Space touches all of our lives today, everyday, and is interwoven into the fabric of how we live. As such, it should be part of our national conversation during this election year so that every American understands how what happens ‘up there’ matters ‘down here.’”

The coalition lays out several policy proposals, which, if adopted, will help sustain U.S. leadership in space. Among them are: committing to predictable budgets, funding robust investments, promoting innovative partnerships, and repealing the Budget Control Act of 2011; continuing global space engagement through programs like the International Space Station; fully funding the Space Launch System, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and the Commercial Crew programs; providing increased resources for national security space and launch programs; promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education; retaining U.S.-educated workers; and further reducing barriers to international trade.

Coalition members represent a broad cross section of space interests, companies, and organizations – including aerospace professionals from industry, academia, and government. Members of the coalition include the Aerospace Industries Association, Aerospace States Association, American Astronautical Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, Colorado Space Coalition, Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Satellite Industry Association, Silicon Valley Space Business Roundtable, Space Angels Network, Space Florida, Space Foundation, and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.



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