Today, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation posted, Deficit Commission Errs, “Illustrative Cut” Would Outsource Human Spaceflight to Russia. The title, along with the premise, of this post is purely rhetorical. Because the Federation forgets that NASA is developing its own crewed transport system, the Bowles-Simpson proposed deficit reduction will not outsource human spaceflight to Russia, merely cut programs such as the authorized, but not yet appropriated, program within NASA to promote and pay for the development of commercial crewed spacecraft.
Today’s New York Times editorial, Some Fiscal Reality, supports the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan while noting the tough fiscal circumstances facing our nation. As the Times notes, a time of belt-tightening and tax-increases is coming in an effort to keep our nation’s debt from rising to over 90% of our country’s GNP. Demanding that government financial support by the billions for commercial crewed spacecraft development continue when so many agencies, NASA in particular, are facing cuts and so many people are facing either real benefits cuts or less-than-trivial tax increases, is politically tone deaf. Such an argument will fall on very deaf ears in the halls of Congress and within the White House.
Human space access is a national priority. Subsidizing commercial crewed spacecraft development is not. We have our national human space flight capability through NASA. The development of NASA’s Orion and Heavy Lift Launcher will assure that the U.S. will not only maintain its leadership in human space flight access, but in human space exploration as well. If commercial space companies wish to join NASA in orbit, perhaps they should find private investors willing to fund their dreams, just as Burt Rutan did in developing SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipOne made it into space; so can the other commercial space companies.