TPIS: We Want SLS Competition, Not an ATK Earmark

TPIS PR — Washington DC — Tea Party in Space (TPIS), a non-partisan organization, today strongly condemned a letter being circulated in the US Senate that advocates a sole-source bailout for the Solid Rocket Motor industry.

The letter, addressed to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and OMB Director Jack Lew, demands that the Administration ignore recent bipartisan calls for competing major elements of the proposed Space Launch System and instead use existing Solid Rocket Boosters made by only one company, Alliant Techsystems (ATK), in Utah.

The letter makes clear that the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was designed to earmark several billion dollars for existing Shuttle and Ares contractors such as ATK.   In fact, at the time the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation reported out the authorization bill, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) declared:

“…the Commerce Committee’s bill has established certain requirements which the [Space Launch] System must meet.  After speaking with experts in Utah, it is their conclusion that these requirements can only be realistically accomplished by using solid rocket motors.”

This comment is echoed in the letter circulating in the Senate:

“These same experts also determined these legal requirements could only be realistically met through the use of solid rocket motors.”

“Senator Hatch should publicly disown this letter immediately if he is not involved,” said Tea Party in Space President Andrew Gasser, “and any Senator who signs this letter should be ashamed for trying to force this multi-billion dollar bailout earmark down taxpayers throats when the US government is facing a financial crisis over the national debt.”

“Solid Rocket Boosters are one choice available to NASA, but they are not the only choice” stated Isaac Mooers, TPIS Director of Operations.  “The existing, flight-proven Atlas V and Falcon 9 could both serve as boosters for initial SLS flights while more advanced liquid rockets are commercially developed.  Competition is the only fiscally responsible way to buy boosters for the SLS.”

TPIS and its volunteer network will be reaching out nationwide to candidates and elected officials of all parties, to ensure that this sole-source earmark is terminated.