Letter from Space Leaders to Congress Urging Support of NASA’s Use of Commercial Crew Services to the ISS

By SpaceRef Editor
March 1, 2011
Filed under
Letter from Space Leaders to Congress Urging Support of NASA’s Use of Commercial Crew Services to the ISS

1 March 2011

Dear Members of Congress:

We, the undersigned space leaders–over 50 of us, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. We are writing to urge you to fully fund NASA’s plan to use commercial companies to carry crew to the Space Station because it is critical to the health of the Nation’s human spaceflight efforts.

Among us are former NASA executives and advisors, former astronauts, CEOs and directors of firms large and small, space scientists, space journalists, and others. We include 14 former NASA astronauts, 5 former NASA senior executives, 13 educators and nonprofit leaders, and 24 space industry leaders from a wide variety of firms and institutions, both large and small.

We are a diverse group, but we are only a tiny fraction of the Nation’s citizens who support U.S. leadership in human space flight and the development of competitive commercial human spaceflight.

By creating competition, and using fixed price contracts, NASA’s commercial crew program offers a much less expensive way of transporting NASA astronauts to the Station than any other domestic means. Funding NASA’s Commercial Crew program would lower the cost of access to low Earth orbit, thus enabling more of NASA’s budget to be applied to its focus on exploration beyond low Earth orbit, and better enabling the kind of program laid out in NASA’s authorization bill.

NASA’s competitive commercial crew program is the best way to restore US human launch capability after the Space Shuttle retires later this year, to ensure NASA’s long-term role in the International Space Station, and to open up budget resources to send crew beyond Earth orbit.

Moreover, by being less expensive than other approaches to Space Station crew transport, the Commercial Crew program represents one of the best means to prevent damage to NASA’s human spaceflight capabilities in the face of across the board spending cuts being discussed by Congress.

After the Space Shuttle retires, Russia is set to carry American astronauts to the Space Station. By hiring American businesses, NASA’s Commercial Crew to Space Station program also generates thousands of high tech American jobs across states ranging from Florida, to Alabama, to Texas, to California, to Virginia, to Colorado, to Nevada, and to Maryland, rather than sending these jobs overseas to Russia to build Soyuz capsules and rockets.

For these important reasons, we fully and enthusiastically support full funding for NASA’s commercial crew to Space Station program and urge you to support this program as well in your votes this year.


The undersigned, listed alphabetically

Dr. Loren Acton
Former NASA Astronaut
Professor, Montana State University
Bozeman, Montana

Mr. Bretton Alexander
President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Alexandria, Virginia

Mr. Eric Anderson
CEO, Space Adventures,
Chairman of the Board, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Seattle, Washington

Mr. Jeffery S. Ashby, USN, Ret.
Former NASA Astronaut
Colorado Spring, Colorado

Dr. Jim Bell
Professor, ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration
President, The Planetary Society
Phoenix, Arizona

Mr. Ken Bowersox, USAF Ret.
Former NASA astronaut
Vice President of Mission Assurance and Astronaut Safety
Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Hawthorne, California

Dr. Jay Buckey
Former NASA Astronaut
Dartmouth, New Hampshire

Ms. Heather Bulk
President and CEO, Special Aerospace Services
Boulder, Colorado

Dr. Jack Burns
Professor, University of Colorado,
Former Chair, NASA Advisory Council Science Committee
Denver, Colorado

Mr. Andy Chaikin
Space Historian/Science Journalist
Arlington, Vermont

Mr. Robert Cenker
Former NASA Astronaut
East Windsor, New Jersey

Mr. Keith Cowing
Former Payload Manager, NASA Space Station Program
Founder, SpaceRef International
Reston, Virginia

Mr. Tom Crabb
President, ORBITEC
Madison, Wisconsin

Dr. Peter Diamandis
Chairman and CEO, X Prize Foundation
Playa Vista, California

Dr. Michael Drake
Head, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

Mr. Art Dula
CEO, Excalibur Almaz
Houston, Texas

Mr. Edward Ellegood
Former Director, Spaceport Florida Authority
Director of Aerospace Development,
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Beach, Florida

Dr. Robert Farquhar
Senior Mission Designer, KinetX Corp.
Fairfax, Virginia

Dr. G. Wayne Finger, P.E. Vice President, Aerospace & Defense Reynolds, Smith & Hills, Inc.
Jacksonville, Florida

Dr. Louis K. Friedman
Former Executive Director, The Planetary Society
Pasadena, California

Dr. Owen Garriott
Former NASA Astronaut
Huntsville, Alabama

Mr. Richard Garriott
Space Adventures Astronaut
Austin, Texas

Mr. Jeffrey Greason
CEO, XCOR Aerospace
Mojave, California

Mr. Gerald D. Griffin
Former Director, NASA Johnson Space Center
Former Deputy Director, NASA Kennedy Space Center
Former Deputy Director, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Hunt, Texas

Dr. Leroy P. Gross, MD, MPH
CEO, Innovative Health Applications, LLC

Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman
Former NASA Astronaut, and MIT professor
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dr. Rick Holdridge
Chairman of the NM Spaceport Authority,
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Prof. G. Scott Hubbard
Former Director NASA Ames Research Center
Stanford University, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Palo Alto, California

Prof. Millie Hughes-Fulford
Former NASA Astronaut
University of California
San Francisco, California

Mr. Michael Joyce
President & Founder, Next Giant Leap Google LLC Lunar X Prize Team
Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Dale Ketcham
Director, Spaceport Research & Technology Institute
Merritt Island, Florida

Dr. John Logsdon
Founder, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University.
Washington, D.C.

Mr. David Masten
CEO, Masten Space Systems Inc.
Mojave, California

Mr. Taber MacCallum
CEO, Paragon Space Development Corp.
Tucson, Arizona

Mr. Robert Meyerson
Program Manager, Blue Origin, LLC
Kent, Washington

Mr. Bill Mitchell
Chairman, Environmental Tectonics Corporation/NASTAR
Southampton, Pennsylvania

Mr. James Muncy
Co-Founder, Space Frontier Foundation
Alexandria, Virginia

Mr. Elon Musk
CEO and CTO, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Hawthorne, California

Dr. George D. Nelson
Former NASA Astronaut
Bellingham, Washington

Mr. Joseph E. Palaia, IV
Manager, NewSpace Center,
Vice President, 4Frontiers Corp.
New Port Richey, Florida

Mr. Robert Poole
Former Member, Bush-Cheney Transition Team
Director, The Reason Foundation
Los Angeles, California

Ms. Jayne Poynter
President, Paragon Space Development Corp.
Tucson, Arizona

Mr. Bob Richards
CEO, Moon Express Inc. Google Lunar X Prize Team
Sunnyvale, California

Dr. Russell L. “Rusty” Schweickart
Former NASA Astronaut
Sonoma, California

Col. Richard Searfoss, USAF Ret.
Former NASA/Shuttle Commander
Chief Test Pilot, XCOR
Mojave, California

Mr. Brewster Shaw, USAF Ret.
Former NASA Astronaut and Vice President and General Manager,
Space Exploration Division, Boeing
Houston, Texas

Mr. Mark Sirangelo
Chairman, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems,
Former Chairman of the Board, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Louisville, Colorado

Ms. Patti Grace Smith
Former FAA Associate Administrator, and Aerospace Consultant
Washington, D.C.

Mr. George F. Sowers
Vice President for Business Development and Advanced Programs, United Launch Alliance
Denver, Colorado

Mr. Craig E. Steidle, Rear Admiral U.S. Navy, Ret.
Former NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration
U.S. Naval Academy, Department of Aerospace Engineering
Annapolis, Maryland

Dr. S. Alan Stern
Former NASA Associate Administrator for Science
Niwot, Colorado

Dr. Kathryn Thornton
Former NASA Astronaut
Charlottesville, Virginia

Mr. Lee Valentine
Chairman and Executive Vice President
Space Studies Institute
Mojave, California

Col. Jim Voss, USAF Ret.,
Former NASA Space Shuttle Astronaut and Director of Advanced Programs, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems
Louisville, Colorado

Mr. Robert Walker
Former Chair, House Science Committee
Chairman, Wexler and Walker, Public Policy Associates
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Robert W. Werb
Chairman of the Board, Space Frontier Foundation
Nyack, New York

Mr. George Whitesides
Former NASA Chief of Staff,
President and CEO, Virgin Galactic
Los Angeles, California

SpaceRef staff editor.