Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) applauds the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill approved yesterday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill sends $18.1 billion to NASA for Fiscal Year 2014, including $775 million for the Commercial Crew Program and $670 million for Space Technology, of which $17 million is allocated for the Flight Opportunities Program.
“With this legislation, the Senate Appropriations Committee has recognized the key role NASA plays in American innovation, exploration, and inspiration,” stated CSF Chairman Stuart Witt. “We thank Chairwoman Mikulski and the rest of the Committee for their commitment to preserving America’s leadership in space and supporting the many American engineers and scientists working to bring the benefits of spaceflight to everyone.”
“I cannot overstate the value of this bill’s investment in the Commercial Crew Program. It will allow American astronauts to return to flight on American vehicles as soon as possible,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “The bill also funds development in space technology that will enable new NASA missions and keep the U.S. the technological leader in space.”
“America has always been on the forefront of space and technology, but countries like China and India are rapidly expanding their programs and looking to challenge the U.S.,” said Executive Director Alex Saltman. “NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is a key part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, facilitating the testing of new technologies and new modes of scientific research on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles.”
Commercial Crew Program
Congress and the Administration have consistently identified commercial providers as a cost-effective, safe, and reliable source of routine flights to low-Earth orbit, including transportation of cargo and NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The third round of the Commercial Crew Program was awarded in July 2012, with three integrated system designs chosen for further development. Because these are competitively awarded, fixed-price, and milestone-based partnerships, NASA only pays for what is successfully developed.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will enable American providers to cut dependence on the Russian Soyuz for crewed access to the ISS, a facility that American taxpayers have invested billions to build. NASA currently pays Moscow more than $60 million per seat to access the ISS, a price that is expected to rise above $70 million in the next few years.
NASA technology development capabilities have shrunk dangerously over the last decade. The Space Technology Mission Directorate is revitalizing innovation at NASA, demonstrating technologies that will allow future manned and unmanned missions to destinations across the solar system. The program includes development and demonstration work at many NASA centers and at companies and universities around the country. The Flight Opportunities Program provides test flights for technology development and new space-based science that will further our exploration capabilities while keeping the U.S. competitive with other space programs overseas.