The National Space Society (NSS) congratulates Elon Musk and the entire SpaceX team on the Dragon spacecraft’s historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and its safe return to Earth yesterday.
“The mission was truly spectacular and marks a watershed moment in space history — proving that the commercial sector can successfully service the ISS,” said NSS Executive Director Paul E. Damphousse. “We were especially fortunate to celebrate the Dragon’s grappling at ISS on Friday morning with NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., who was at that very moment addressing an audience of nearly one thousand at NSS’s recent International Space Development Conference (ISDC).”
ISDC, the National Space Society’s annual conference, wrapped up in Washington, DC earlier this week. Administrator Bolden was delivering the opening keynote speech just as Dragon approached and then berthed at the ISS.
The safe return of Dragon and the advancement of commercial cargo and crew programs mark true milestones on the path to enabling a space-faring civilization. NASA’s efforts to advance space technology will also have a significant impact: technologies such as cryogenic propellant storage and transfer (CPST), solar electric propulsion (SEP), and advanced robotics are “mission-multipliers,” and are but a few examples being advanced by NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist. These efforts will help to enable robust space operations while providing dramatic reductions in overall costs.
NSS recognizes that there is still much to be done, and maintains that strong leadership in government will be critical going forward. In this context, NSS calls on the Senate to fully fund the commercial crew development program and space technology lines of the NASA budget as proposed in the President’s FY2013 budget request earlier this year, removing the proposed cuts made by the House in May. While NSS acknowledges the difficult budgetary parameters under which Congress must work, we strongly encourage both Houses of Congress to accede to the President’s request for both commercial crew and space technology during conference later this year.
“The successful conclusion of SpaceX’s COTS-2/3 missions has demonstrated that the commercial sector is now ready to move forward with increased responsibility for servicing ISS, including the development of crew transport capability,” Damphousse said. “If funded and executed correctly, the commercial crew program will end our sole reliance on foreign providers and bring that capability — and the jobs associated with it — back home. We should be preserving funding for these commercial and space technology programs — which are producing tangible successes today, and will continue to do so in the near-term and beyond — rather than shifting it to already well-funded programs that may be years away from providing results.