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Scuttle the Shuttle!

Published by Robin on Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:49 pm
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Space Frontier Foundation Says Space Shuttle is a Waste of Taxpayer Funds
Wednesday July 13, 10:39 am ET

LOS ANGELES, July 13 /PRNewswire/ — With today’s planned return to flight of NASA’s Space Shuttle, the Space Frontier Foundation renewed its call for the orbiters to be retired. The Foundation, a critic of Shuttle costs for 15 years, urged NASA and Congress to announce a firm date when the last Shuttle will fly.

“If it were up to us, the Shuttle would not have flown in the first place,” remarked the Foundation’s Rick Tumlinson. “Far from opening space, it weighed us down with its bloated budgets, massive support network and tragic cost in terms of human life. We should kill the program as soon possible, before more money gets wasted and anyone else gets hurt.”

The Foundation understands NASA is trapped by its need to complete the International Space Station. But the citizens’ group wants NASA to name a date when the last orbiter will fly so a transition can be planned, preferably based on private sector firms flying people and payloads as part of a new free-enterprise space transportation marketplace.

Explained Tumlinson, “those insisting the orbiters keep flying are burying our hopes of advancing to anything new. Pouring billions into the Space Shuttles rips off taxpayers — and betrays NASA’s hardworking employees — by feeding a dying beast, while simultaneously starving a newborn industry and NASA’s future exploration efforts.”

A fraction of the money going into the current system would launch a whole new space transportation marketplace. The Foundation endorsed recent moves by new NASA administrator Mike Griffin to use commercial-type contracting methods to buy delivery services for ISS re-supply, and explore innovative partnerships to enable lower-cost human access to ISS or commercial space stations.

“Given a few major changes in how NASA does business, commercial firms will be able to carry cargo and crews to and from the facility,” continued Tumlinson. “It’s going to take a few years to get these new ships off the ground, but we must have a deadline now, so money can be raised and business plans funded.”

Tumlinson concluded, “we agree with the courageous new leaders at NASA: when it comes to flying people or cargo into space on the outdated, costly, and risky Shuttle system — let it end by 2010 — or even sooner.”

Source: Space Frontier Foundation

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