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Renewed Call For Competitive US Spaceflight Marketplace

CAGW President Speaks At Press Conference On Competitive Spaceflight
Washington - Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz will speak on Capitol Hill this morning about the importance of increasing private sector participation in space exploration while reducing the government's role. Schatz will deliver his remarks at a press conference featuring members of the Competitive Space Task Force, a coalition of organizations seeking a free and competitive market for spaceflight and space services, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, TechFreedom, Institute for Liberty, Reason Foundation, The Atlas Society, and the Space Frontier Foundation.

CAGW, America's premier taxpayer watchdog group, has supported the elimination of wasteful space programs in favor of increased reliance on the private sector since its inception in 1984. Its annual Prime Cuts database, which has been published annually since 1993, features 763 recommendations that would save taxpayers $350 billion in one year and $2.2 trillion over five years.

Among the space-related proposals are the cancellation of NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory, abandoning the Moon/Mars Initiative, ending U.S. involvement with the International Space Station, and hiring private firms for communications with government spacecraft.

"NASA has been more willing to pay $55.8 million per passenger for the Russians to ferry American astronauts back and forth to space than it has been to rely on an American private sector that is willing, able, and eager to provide the same service at a fraction of the cost," said Schatz.

"As the nation marks President Reagan's 100th birthday this week, it is relevant to note that the Grace Commission, which was established by President Reagan and led directly to the founding of CAGW, called for privatization of the Space Shuttle in its final 1984 report. With the nation facing a record budget deficit of $1.5 trillion and a fast-growing $14.3 trillion national debt, it is critical to adopt all cost-saving recommendations for space exploration."

In May 2010, CAGW called for NASA to cut its losses and terminate the wasteful and ineffective Constellation human spaceflight program, predicted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to cost taxpayers $230 billion upon completion. That same month, CAGW released an issue brief highlighting the many performance shortcomings and budgetary overages of Constellation.

"At CAGW we believe taxpayers spend money more effectively than government bureaucrats. As a result, getting the government out of space exploration is one of our top priorities. It is gratifying to have a chance to work toward that goal alongside such an impressive alliance of like-minded groups," Schatz concluded.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 10, 2011
The Competitive Space Task Force, a coalition of fiscal conservatives and free-market leaders, has unveiled its strategy for creating a free and competitive market for spaceflight and space services enabling the country to recapture the imagination and innovation of America's space program and foster a new entrepreneurial spirit in the emerging Space Economy. The Task Force unveiled its core strategy and principles today at a press conference in the hearing room of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Retired Congressman and former Chairman of the House Science Committee Robert S. Walker remarked, "The Space Economy is emerging as the next great frontier for economic expansion and U.S. leadership. If we really want to 'win the future,' we cannot abandon our commitment to space exploration and human spaceflight. The fastest path to space is not through Moscow, but through the American entrepreneur."

In recent years, between the long-planned retirement of the Space Shuttle and the cancellation of Constellation and NASA's troubled Ares rocket program, the U.S. has grown increasingly reliant on the Russian Soyuz for transportation to and from the International Space Station costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over just the next few years.

Rather than funding the Russian space program, the U.S. could be creating jobs at home by relying instead on America's private space industry. America's dependence on the Russian program is complicated by our foreign policy as we seek to discourage the Russians from aiding U.S. adversaries in the development of nuclear weaponry and missile technology.

Said Rand Simberg, Chairman of the Competitive Space Task Force, "America cannot simply sit in the passenger seat and expect to lead. We need to pilot the ship. We need to lead the way."

According to the Task Force, an open and free market for both space transportation and services would fuel innovation, lower costs and create jobs. Recommendations to Congress include:

+ Accelerating efforts to stimulate new American industrial competitive crew transportation systems to low Earth orbit; + Opening up the U.S. segment of the International Space Station to the fullest possible economic utilization by the U.S. private sector; + Utilizing fixed-price, pay-for-performance contracts to reward private investment and innovation in human exploration and spaceflight projects; + And dramatically reducing the costs of NASA programs while opening up new commercial opportunities for private business in space.

The flawed assumption in the management of America's space program, according to Task Force leaders, is that centralized five and ten-year plans through cost-plus contracts to selected contractors is the most efficient way to innovate and compete with the global space community. While the Task Force acknowledges this approach worked for the Apollo program, they point to recent successes and innovation in commercial space transportation, increased international competition and the limitations on government funding as catalysts for a new decentralized and entrepreneurial approach.

Said Simberg, "Government can and should create a framework for American industry and individuals to pursue their ideals and dreams, and space should be no exception. By opening space up to the American people and their enterprises, NASA can ignite an economic, technological, and innovation renaissance, and the United States will regain its rightful place as the world leader in space."

Competitive Space Task Force ("CSTF") is a coalition of leading conservative and free-market thinkers from organizations committed to creating a free and competitive market for U.S. spaceflight and space services, reducing government waste at NASA, and reclaiming America's proud legacy of achievement in human spaceflight and technology innovation. Members of the Task Force include the Honorable Robert Walker; Competitive Enterprise Institute; Citizens Against Government Waste; TechFreedom; Andrew Langer, Institute for Liberty; Robert Poole, Reason Foundation; Ed Hudgins, The Atlas Society; and James Muncy, Space Frontier Foundation. Rand Simberg of the Competitive Enterprise Institute serves as Chairman of the Task Force.

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