The American Astronautical Society welcomes the new national policy on Space Transportation, authorized by the President on December 21, 2004, as described in the Fact Sheet released by the Office of Science and Technology Policy on January 6, 2005. We are at a time when space assets are playing an increasingly crucial role in the security, economic and scientific health of the nation. A clearly enunciated approach to the organization, support and operation of the U.S. space transportation sector is therefore vital in order to guarantee access to, travel within and return from space.

The new policy clearly delineates the roles and responsibilities of the various branches of the U.S. government engaged in space transportation activities along with the interaction between the government and the industrial sector. Of particular importance are the recognition of and the support for space transportation activities in the commercial sector.

The AAS is also pleased to note that the new policy reiterates the Administration’s commitment to returning the Space Shuttle to flight, completing the assembly of the International Space Station and developing a Crew Exploration Vehicle.

We eagerly await the release of the FY06 budget requests for the relevant departments and agencies, needed to support the implementation of this policy, and urge the Congress to act on them appropriately and expeditiously