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Mon, Aug 17, 2009

Commercial Space Flight Companies Eager To Get Started

Augustine Commission Report Will Likely Favor Commercial Ventures For Low-Earth Orbit Missions

During what may be the last public meeting Wednesday, the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, commissioned by President Obama to study current U.S. human space flight plans, said there was a strong consensus for funding a robust commercial human space flight program to provide human space transportation to low Earth orbit (LEO).

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The remarks, not surprisingly, drew an enthusiastic response from the commercial space flight community. “We are pleased that the panel has endorsed commercial human space flight as an option for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS),” said Bob Hopkins, a spokesman for the Next Step in Space coalition. “We are confident that U.S. based commercial space companies will enhance the scientific and research capabilities of the ISS and ensure that funding now slated to go to Russia can contribute to high tech jobs here at home.”

Included in virtually every option presented was providing $2.5 billion over four years starting in FY2011 to support development of commercial human space transport capabilities. The panel also discussed options that included commercially-provided heavy lift capabilities for space exploration beyond LEO.

“The panel’s thoughtful approach is appreciated and we look forward to its final recommendations later this month,” Hopkins said.

This endorsement of commercial human space flight comes a little over a week after NASA’s announcement of a $50 million commercial crew development program to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities while fostering entrepreneurial activity leading to job growth in engineering, analysis, design, and research.

The committee’s findings will be formally presented to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the end of August.



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