CSF on NASA Space Tech Report: We Like It!

Washington, D.C. February 2, 2012 (CSF PR): The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomes today’s release of the National Research Council report on NASA’s Space Technology Program.  The Federation and its member companies are strong advocates for robust funding for the Space Technology Program.

The report found, “It has been years since NASA has had a vigorous, broad-based program in advanced space technology development, and NASA’s technology base is largely depleted,” and that, “a robust space technology base is urgently needed.”

CSF Executive Director Alex Saltman said, “At a time when the nation is asking all government agencies to do more with less, NASA technology development is vitally important to reduce operations costs, increase capability and open up new, more cost-effective paradigms for achieving NASA’s goals.”

Below are some selected findings from the report, on technology development and its relationship with commercial spaceflight.

Industry access to NASA data:

“Recommendation. Industry Access to NASA Data. OCT should make the engineering, scientific, and technical data that NASA has acquired from past and present space missions and technology development more readily available to U.S. industry, including companies that do not have an ongoing working relationship with NASA and that are pursuing their own commercial goals apart from NASA’s science and exploration missions. …” (Page S-12)

“[The US aerospace industry] seems ready to exploit emerging commercial opportunities (beyond traditional services such as commercial communications and imagery), often by selling commercial space products and services where earlier the government would have purchased the space system itself. Promising non-governmental commercial opportunities include orbital human habitats and satellite servicing. Current U.S. space policies are intended to take advantage of the strengths of the United States with its free-market, entrepreneurial business culture. The transition to a more robust commercial space industry would be facilitated if NASA made new and existing research and development data more accessible to U.S. industry (especially industry that is working on its own commercial goals apart from NASA missions).” (Page 4-8)

NASA and commercial space:

“Recommendation. NASA Investments in Commercial Space Technology. … OCT should also collaborate with the U.S. commercial space industry in the development of precompetitive technologies of interest to and sought by the commercial space industry.” (Page S-12)

“The draft [NASA] roadmaps could be improved by explicitly addressing the needs of the commercial space sector.” (Page 4-7)

Available platforms:

“Various platforms are available to support flight testing and demonstrations, depending on the technology and application in question. Possibilities include high-altitude airborne flights, sub-orbital space flights, and orbital flights on dedicated spacecraft, government or commercial spacecraft (as a secondary payload), and on the International Space Station (ISS).” (Page 4-4)

“High launch costs currently serve as a major barrier to any space mission, limiting both the number and the scope of NASA’s space missions.” (Page 2-12)