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Washington D.C. – Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee released its Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, allocating Federal spending for several agencies including NASA. The bill provided a welcome increase in NASA’s funding.

“I’m encouraged to see Congress prioritizing NASA’s mission and supporting it with strong funding,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “Unfortunately, the increase was not evenly distributed and two key areas, the Commercial Crew Program and Space Technology, were below requested levels. We hope that as the appropriations process continues, Congress will be able to increase the funding for these key programs.”

In the bill, the Space Technology Mission Directorate is provided $620 million, which is below the requested funding of $705.5 million. Specific appropriations for the Commercial Crew Program have not yet been released, however the bill implicitly cuts a group of programs that includes the Commercial Crew Program by $80 million. Further  details on specific programs are not available until the committee report is released. Those details could affect the levels of funding and the success or failure of the programs.

“The Space Technology Mission Directorate produces the innovations that NASA needs to remain the world leader in spaceflight,” said CSF Chairman Stuart Witt. “NASA’s Commercial Crew Program offers the most cost-effective, safe source for routine flights to low-Earth orbit from American soil. Reduced funding for Commercial Crew will delay the process of returning astronauts to space on American vehicles and prolong our dependence on Russian vehicles.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1418.

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomes NASA’s FY 2015 budget proposal and its continued support for commercial spaceflight.

“With the proposed budget, the Administration continues to communicate the importance of having a strong national space program that can further our presence in space and benefit life here on Earth,” stated CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “We applaud the robust support for Commercial Crew and Space Technology which will strengthen our space industrial base, and secure the nation’s place as a leader of exploration and innovation. We look forward to working with Congress to achieve the highest levels of funding for these critical programs.”

The White House’s 2015 Fiscal Year budget request would provide NASA with $17.46B. Within that topline, NASA has requested $848M for its Commercial Crew Program and $705M for Space Technology.

Rapidly developing American spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts is crucial to end NASA’s dependency on Russia. NASA currently pays ROSCOSMOS approximately $70 million per seat to fly our astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). In partnership with NASA through its Commercial Crew Program, American companies are developing safe, modern, cost-effective, and reliable transportation to ISS. Full funding for this important program will rapidly reduce our dependence on aging Russian infrastructure.

The U.S. continues to develop innovative technologies that drive exploration through NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. Strong continued support for these programs will ensure the U.S. remains a leader in space despite intense competition from other countries such as China and India. In addition, NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is allowing researchers to test key technologies through commercial suborbital flights to further aid exploration to new destinations.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1418.

Washington D.C. – Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria will be speaking at the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation (CST) Conference Thursday, February 6th at 9:30am. The FAA CST conference will be held February 5-6 and will bring together industry representatives to discuss a number of commercial spaceflight policy questions. Lopez-Alegria is currently vice-chair of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Group (COMSTAC). Click here for a full agenda of the conference.

In addition, tomorrow, the House Science, Space and Technology committee, Space subcommittee will be holding a hearing on commercial spaceflight regulatory issues titled, “Necessary Updates to the Commercial Space Launch Act.” The hearing will be webcast live at 2:00pm ET on the Committee’s website.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is available for comment on many of the issues discussed at these two events. Please contact Alex Saltman at saltman@commercialspaceflight.org or 202-347-1096.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visitwww.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1418.

 

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation thanks the Members of the House of Representatives for the passage of H.R. 3547 today. The bill provides critical funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and extends government risk-sharing for U.S. commercial launch companies until December 31, 2016. The previous law that provided this risk-sharing expired on December 31, 2013.

The bill funds NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at $696 million, a significant increase from FY13.

“With this bill’s strong Commercial Crew funding, Congress has acknowledged the importance of quickly developing a U.S. system to carry American astronauts and reduce our dependence on aging Russian infrastructure,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “We applaud Congress for recognizing the importance of a robust U.S. space program and, in particular, an organic capability to provide human access to Low-Earth Orbit.”

H.R. 3547 will also extend a liability risk-sharing regime that has been in place virtually without interruption since 1988.

“The U.S. saw two commercially licensed launches within the second week of 2014, including one for a foreign satellite company,” said Stuart Witt, CSF Chairman and CEO of Mojave Air & Space Port. “The foreign satellite launch was won in a competitive market that includes overseas launch companies, many of which enjoy more robust third-party liability.”

“For their hard work, we thank the sponsors of the House and Senate bills, Representatives Smith, Edwards, Johnson, and Palazzo, and Senators Nelson, Cruz, Feinstein, Heinrich, Kaine, Rubio, Thune, Udall M., Udall T., Warner and Wicker, as well as Representative McCarthy’s leadership on this critical issue for the sector. We look forward to working with Congress to find a permanent solution.”

NASA’s Space Technology program will be funded at $575 million, considerably less than the President’s FY14 request.

”Space Technology is a crucial program for NASA’s future,” said CSF Executive Director Alex Saltman. “We must strengthen our investment in space technology, to ensure NASA has the tools it needs to explore and inspire into the future.”

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is enabling American companies to develop reliable access to low-Earth orbit including the International Space Station (ISS) and return human launch capabilities back to the U.S. NASA is currently paying approximately $70 million per seat for rides to the ISS on Russian Soyuz vehicles. CCP will give NASA safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to LEO while allowing greater insight into development and production than currently available with the Soyuz. Further, these transportation systems will enable full utilization of the ISS and enhance scientific research and technology development.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is a hub of innovation at the agency, developing technologies that will further space exploration and benefit life on Earth. The U.S. has always been a leader in space because of such programs under this directorate. Robust funding will ensure the nation will continue to be on the forefront of cutting-edge research and technologies that will allow future manned and unmanned missions to new destinations.

The government risk-sharing regime provides necessary financial certainty for commercial launch companies for unforeseen damages to third parties. In the unlikely event of a 1-in-10 million accident, this provision would allow the Secretary of Transportation to seek an expedited appropriation for funds to help pay a portion of the damages. At no cost to taxpayers, a permanent indemnification regime will cut out unnecessary risk and uncertainty in the business of these companies and will allow them to remain competitive with major overseas launch companies in China, Russia and France that offer stronger domestic risk-sharing provisions.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1418.

Washington D.C. – Yesterday, the White House released the highly anticipated National Space Transportation Policy to guide the government’s use of space. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation applauds the clear vision of this Policy, which includes strong continued support for the use of competitive commercial space services.

The Policy emphasizes the importance of America’s leadership in space for exploration, scientific research, and national security purposes. The Policy urges the use of commercial services wherever available and reiterates its commitment to “encouraging and facilitating a viable, healthy, and competitive U.S. commercial space transportation industry.”

“The commercial space industry has shown its capacity to be a strong partner to government programs in utilization and exploration of space,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “We appreciate this clear delineation of policy in favor of supporting American industry, creating the most effective and efficient space program possible and ensuring the nation retains its leadership and competitiveness in space. We are grateful for the Obama Administration’s support for the commercial space sector and look forward to many joint successes to come.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1418.

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation strongly supports S. 1753 to extend government risk-sharing for U.S. commercial launch companies for three years. Current law that provides risk-sharing for these companies is set to expire in less than two months, on December 31, 2013.

The bill, introduced by Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Science and Space Subcommittee Chairman Bill Nelson with significant bipartisan support, calls for extension of a liability risk-sharing regime that was created in 1988 and has never led to any cost for the taxpayer. The provision requires commercial launch companies to show financial responsibility (usually in the form of insurance) for liability resulting from damages to third parties, including the government, up to a value that, as calculated by the FAA, would only be exceeded in a 1-in-10 million chance accident. If such an unlikely event occurred, the law would then allow the Secretary of Transportation to seek expedited appropriations for funds above the insured amount but below another statutory limit. According to testimony given by the GAO in June 2012, the other major space-launching countries (China, Russia, and France) offer their industries stronger third-party risk protection than the current U.S. risk-sharing regime.

“The arrangement struck in the Commercial Space Launch Act was that launch companies would be required to buy very comprehensive insurance that would protect the public and the government, and the government would in turn step in in the extremely unlikely case that the insurance were insufficient,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “At no cost to the taxpayers, government risk-sharing provides the necessary certainty for our industry to be competitive internationally and to continue to create high-tech jobs in the U.S.”

Lopez-Alegria continued, “I applaud Senator Nelson as well as cosponsors on both sides of the aisle, led by Senator Thune, for advancing this important issue, and I look forward to our continued work together to create a permanent risk-sharing regime as well as a full reauthorization of the Commercial Space Launch Act to remove regulatory uncertainty for companies in this rapidly growing industry.”

In a hearing held yesterday by the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Space, Stuart Witt, CEO of Mojave Air and Space Port and current CSF Board Chairman, said: “There is certainly a motivation [for commercial launch companies] to be rigorous. For 20 years, the government has not been placed at risk. If a program that is put in place is working that well, I would [need] a compelling reason to change it. I would extend it indefinitely.”

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1418.

Washington D.C. – The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Subcommittee on Space will hold a hearing on commercial space tomorrow at 10:00 AM ET at the Rayburn House Office Building. Stuart Witt, the CEO and General Manager of the Mojave Air & Space Port, is among the witnesses to testify on the progress of the commercial space industry. The Mojave Air & Space Port is a founding member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. The hearing will be webcast on the Committee’s website.

Recent accomplishments in the commercial spaceflight industry:

The Federal Aviation Administration regulates American commercial launches. In 2011 only three launches were licensed or permitted by the FAA, but the industry has grown fast. In 2012 there were nine launches and so far in 2013 there have been 11, with three more scheduled before the end of the year. The commercial orbital space launch market is robust, and U.S. commercial space launch companies are recapturing market share surrendered to international competitors over the last 30 years.

Cargo resupply vehicles from two companies have been berthed to the International Space Station. One of them – SpaceX’s Dragon capsule – has also returned a significant amount of cargo to Earth—a critical requirement for maximizing the science and research potential of the Space Station.

Suborbital launch companies have collected deposits from over 800 people to fly into space, considerably more than the 536 people worldwide who have ever flown to space.

U.S. commercial companies have won increasingly more launch contracts from American and international satellite companies in the last three years.

Competitors in NASA’s Commercial Crew competition have test-fired an escape rocket, conducted drop tests, flown vehicles and completed wind tunnel testing, and have met critical milestones on budget and on schedule. They continue to work with NASA to ensure that their vehicles are safe, reliable and affordable.

One suborbital commercial space vehicle – Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo – completed two powered test flights from the Mojave Air & Space Port, both breaking the sound barrier.

For more commercial space industry accomplishments, http://www.commercialspaceflight.org/.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at sirisha@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1418.

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) applauds the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill approved yesterday by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill sends $18.1 billion to NASA for Fiscal Year 2014, including $775 million for the Commercial Crew Program and $670 million for Space Technology, of which $17 million is allocated for the Flight Opportunities Program.

“With this legislation, the Senate Appropriations Committee has recognized the key role NASA plays in American innovation, exploration, and inspiration,” stated CSF Chairman Stuart Witt. “We thank Chairwoman Mikulski and the rest of the Committee for their commitment to preserving America’s leadership in space and supporting the many American engineers and scientists working to bring the benefits of spaceflight to everyone.”

“I cannot overstate the value of this bill’s investment in the Commercial Crew Program. It will allow American astronauts to return to flight on American vehicles as soon as possible,” said CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “The bill also funds development in space technology that will enable new NASA missions and keep the U.S. the technological leader in space.”

“America has always been on the forefront of space and technology, but countries like China and India are rapidly expanding their programs and looking to challenge the U.S.,” said Executive Director Alex Saltman. “NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is a key part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, facilitating the testing of new technologies and new modes of scientific research on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles.”

Commercial Crew Program

Congress and the Administration have consistently identified commercial providers as a cost-effective, safe, and reliable source of routine flights to low-Earth orbit, including transportation of cargo and NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The third round of the Commercial Crew Program was awarded in July 2012, with three integrated system designs chosen for further development. Because these are competitively awarded, fixed-price, and milestone-based partnerships, NASA only pays for what is successfully developed.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will enable American providers to cut dependence on the Russian Soyuz for crewed access to the ISS, a facility that American taxpayers have invested billions to build. NASA currently pays Moscow more than $60 million per seat to access the ISS, a price that is expected to rise above $70 million in the next few years.

Space Technology

NASA technology development capabilities have shrunk dangerously over the last decade. The Space Technology Mission Directorate is revitalizing innovation at NASA, demonstrating technologies that will allow future manned and unmanned missions to destinations across the solar system. The program includes development and demonstration work at many NASA centers and at companies and universities around the country. The Flight Opportunities Program provides test flights for technology development and new space-based science that will further our exploration capabilities while keeping the U.S. competitive with other space programs overseas.

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Appropriations Committee approved their Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill that allocates Federal spending for many agencies, including NASA. Unfortunately, the bill reduces funding for two important national priorities—investment in space technology and in commercial space transportation—from NASA’s budget request.

“Less funding for the commercial crew program simply equates to prolonged dependence on foreign launch providers,” said Commercial Spaceflight Federation President, Michael Lopez-Alegria. “As a nation, we should be doing our utmost to regain the capability of putting astronauts in orbit on American vehicles as soon as possible.”

“NASA’s investment in space technology creates tremendous benefits for space exploration, for the space economy and here on the ground,” said Stuart Witt, Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “It enables NASA’s exploration of the most distant reaches of our solar system, creates technologies that enable the next generation of commercial satellites and vehicles, and produces high-tech jobs here in America.”

“Though we believe this funding is inadequate, we understand the difficult allocation the House Appropriations Committee is working under,” said Alex Saltman, Executive Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “We hope to work with the Committee to increase funding for the Commercial Crew and Space Technology programs as the appropriations process continues.”

Congress and the Administration have consistently identified commercial providers as a cost-effective, safe and reliable source of routine flights to low-Earth orbit, including transportation of cargo and NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The third round of the Commercial Crew program was awarded in July 2012, with three complete system designs chosen for further development. Because these are competitively awarded, fixed-price, milestone-based partnerships, NASA only pays for what is successfully developed.

NASA’s Commercial Crew program will enable American providers to cut dependence on the Russian Soyuz for crewed access to the International Space Station, a facility that American taxpayers have invested billions to build. NASA currently pays Moscow more than $60 million per seat to access the ISS, a price that is expected to rise above $70 million in the next few years.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is revitalizing innovation at NASA, demonstrating technologies that will allow future manned and unmanned missions to reach new destinations. America has always been on the forefront of space and technology, but countries like China and India are rapidly expanding their programs and looking to challenge the U.S. NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is a key part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, facilitating the testing of new technologies and new modes of scientific research on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The CSF’s member companies – which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers and service providers – are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Executive Director Alex Saltman at saltman@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1096.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Science and Space this morning at a hearing entitled, “Partnerships to Advance the Business of Space.” Wayne Hale, Director of Human Spaceflight at Special Aerospace Services, Patti Grace Smith, an aerospace consultant at Patti Grace Smith Consulting, and Dr. Steven Collicott, a professor at the school of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University were among the witnesses that also testified this morning. More information about the witnesses and the hearing can be found here.

Click here to download a copy of Michael Lopez-Alegria’s full written testimony.

About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation

The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The CSF’s member companies – which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers and service providers – are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Executive Director Alex Saltman at saltman@commercialspaceflight.org or at 202.347.1096.

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