July 29 News Items

Griffin: Keep Government Human Spaceflight Capability (Source: SPACErePORT)
In a letter to the Augustine Panel, former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin dismissed the notion of relying on commercial providers for human spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit... "It is my considered judgment that the capability for independent and assured human access to space is strategic for the United States. It affects our standing in the world... it follows that it cannot be left solely to the discretion and ability of private entities, whose interests can never, and should never, be wholly aligned with those of government... It is one thing to say, as I have on many occasions, that we should purchase commercial service in lieu of utilizing government systems when the former becomes available. It is another thing entirely for the very existence of a strategic capability to be held hostage to the vagaries of the marketplace."

Editor's Note: The Air Force also considers access to space to be a strategic national capability, yet they no longer operate their own launch vehicles. They supported the development of commercial EELV rockets to meet this need.

Griffin Urges Moon Focus (Source: SPACErePORT)
In his letter to the Augustine Committee, former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin made the case for sticking with plans for continued lunar exploration... "Abandoning cislunar space to others while the U.S. embarks on a Mars project, even an international project, seems to me to be geopolitically unwise. When other nations are conducting high-profile missions in cislunar space and on the moon, and we are still talking about going to Mars, we will no longer be seen as a leader in space. I think this matters greatly." (7/28)

Lampson: Commercial Space Sector Can Help NASA Compete (Source: Houston Chronicle)
As a congressman I fought hard for more resources so NASA could continue to fulfill our nation's leadership role in space exploration, science and technology. Today, in addition to several government space programs, an emerging commercial space flight industry made up of proven and established entrepreneurs is now able to provide many of the launch and cargo services, equipment and infrastructure needed to expand our economy and improve our security here on Earth.

The commercial space flight industry is in a unique position to help NASA and our nation stay competitive. NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) and the follow-on Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) programs enable us to use commercial space capability to deliver cargo to the International Space Station while reducing the cost to the taxpayer.

Through these programs, NASA's development of commercial space transportation will be augmented by both private investment and advanced revenues from sales in other markets, such as telecommunication satellite launches. Commercial providers will actively seek out new markets for their services, such as scientific research flights, national security missions and potentially flights by private citizens. Additionally, the performance-based payment contract for COTS and CRS will provide incentives for commercial providers to keep development costs as low as possible. (7/29)

Space Elevator Contest Held Up (Source: Aviation Week)
A technical issue with a helicopter cable system is forcing the Spaceward Foundation to postpone the Space Elevator Power Beaming Challenge Games originally scheduled for this summer at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The Spaceward Foundation, which conducts the competition as part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, together with NASA, which is providing the $2 million prize money for this segment, said the problems cropped up during tests last week. (7/28)

SpaceX Completes Qualification of Falcon 9 First Stage Tank and Interstage (Source: SpaceX)
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) announces the successful completion of qualification testing for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle first stage tank and interstage. Testing took place at SpaceX’s Texas Test Site, a 300 acre structural and propulsion testing facility, located just outside of Waco, Texas. (7/28)

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