I wrote an op-e d in Space News recently [“A Giant Leap Forward — or a Giant Leap Backward?, June 20, page 19] expressing alarm at what appeared to be a rush to centralize NASA’s exploration work while cutting out the private sector — which I deem to be absolutely core to the success of any permanent human habitation beyond the Earth.
Within a couple of days NASA Administrator Mike Griffin announced a sweeping policy change regarding human and payload transportation to the international space station. In his declaration to the members of the Space Transportation Association, he called for new contracting methods, pay for services and deliveries and other changes that, if implemented, will begin catalyzing what I call the New Space industry in low Earth orbit.
This is critical to his own success in carrying out the president’s mandate on the Frontier. I first rolled this idea out under the name Alpha Town more than 10 years ago, centering on the government using its purchasing power to drive the creation of infrastructure, just as we do here on Earth.
I know there is no one-to-one relationship between my op-e d and his announcement. But I tip my hat to Mr. Griffin for taking a big step in the right direction. I urge NASA, Congress and the industry to work together to make his ideas reality.
The Frontier awaits.
Rick N. Tumlinson
North Hollywood, Calif.