CSF on Augustine Report: We Like It!

augustine_logoCSF PRESS RELEASE

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomes the strong support for commercial human spaceflight expressed by the White House’s Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, also known as the Augustine Committee, which released its final report today. The Augustine Committee endorsed the creation of a Commercial Crew program to develop commercial capabilities to transport crew to the International Space Station, with a baseline NASA investment of $3 billion, to include multiple competitors and human-rating of an existing reliable launch vehicle.

The report further included the following key statements in support of the commercial procurement of crew transportation services to the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit:

* The time is right: The report stated, “Commercial services to deliver crew to low-Earth orbit are within reach. … A new competition with adequate incentives should be open to all U.S. aerospace companies. This would allow NASA to focus on more challenging roles, including human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit…”
* Industry is capable: The report stated, “There is little doubt that the U.S. aerospace industry, from historical builders of human spacecraft to the new entrants, has the technical capability to build and operate a crew taxi to low-Earth orbit.”
* Commercial is safe: The report stated, “Any concepts falling short in human safety have simply been eliminated from consideration.” Later, the report added, “The Committee… would not suggest that a commercial service be provided for transportation of NASA crew if NASA could not be convinced that it was substantially safe.”
* A diverse set of competitors exist: The report stated, “During its fact-finding process, the Committee received proprietary information from five different companies interested in the provision of commercial crew transportation services to low-Earth orbit. These included large and small companies, some of which have previously developed crew systems for NASA.”

Commenting on the release of the Augustine Report, Mark Sirangelo, Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and Chairman of Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems, stated, “Augustine’s detailed report could not be more clear – only by pursuing commercially procured crew transportation can the nation afford to extend the Space Station beyond 2015, even if NASA does receive extra funding. Leveraging the commercial sector will also free up NASA resources for exploration beyond Earth orbit.”

A recent industry-wide survey by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation revealed that 5,000 direct American jobs would be created by a full Commercial Crew program. Through a combination of government and private investment, companies such as United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada Corporation, SpaceX, and others would be able to create jobs in states including Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Texas, Maryland, and Virginia.

“If a Commercial Crew program is not started now,” added Sirangelo, “America will be forced to pay Russia to launch our astronauts to orbit for years to come, at a price of $51 million per seat and rising. With so many capable American companies here at home, why should we outsource our entire human spaceflight program to Russia?”

Bretton Alexander, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, added, “Shortly before the Augustine report was released, over a dozen distinguished former NASA astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal stating that commercial companies can safely handle the task of low-Earth orbit transportation. NASA already relies on the commercial sector for high-value satellite and cargo missions, and the time has come for an evolution to commercial procurement of crew services as well.”