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Conflict at Space Confab

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue May 24, 2005 8:10 pm
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By Michael Belfiore: ARLINGTON, Virginia — Space entrepreneur Burt Rutan, whose company Scaled Composites sent the first private astronauts into space last year, opened the International Space Development Conference with a blistering critique of NASA. He said the agency is wasting taxpayers’ money on a deeply flawed space shuttle and paper spaceships that never get beyond the planning stage.

According to Rutan, NASA should get out of the human spaceflight business and leave the flying to the emerging commercial spaceflight industry.

Rutan outlined his plan to fly tens of thousands of paying passengers into suborbital space within 12 years, and follow that up with commercial flights to Earth orbit and beyond. “I want to go to the moon in my lifetime,” he said. “That’s my personal goal.”

Rutan thus set the tone for four days of schmoozing — but mostly scheming and arguing — among space entrepreneurs, NASA officials and aerospace executives gathered to hash out the future of commercial space flight.
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