Yesterday, as the 101st Space Shuttle
flight launched into space, the Space Frontier Foundation called for the U.S.
government to fix NASA’s deeply flawed $5 billion Space Launch Initiative
Program (“SLIP”), or cancel it altogether.

Touted as a way to dramatically lower future launch costs, the Foundation
sees SLIP as actually delaying the opening of space to free enterprise, and
potentially destroying a fledgling commercial space transportation industry.

Foundation President Rick Tumlinson remarked, “SLIP will do just what its
name implies; the opening of space to the people to slip far into the future.”
He continued, “This ill-conceived waste of billions of tax dollars does
nothing but preserve the bloated, overpriced and inefficient methods we use to
fly people and projects into space today, while crippling the private sector’s
ability to revolutionize space transportation tomorrow.”

Space Frontier Foundation believes SLIP will keep private companies from
developing new and innovative launch vehicles, since no firms want, nor can
afford to, compete with the American government-sponsored Shuttle II program.
The Foundation prefers NASA fulfill its own near-term needs through continued
use and upgrades to today’s Space Shuttle fleet, while feeding SLIP funds and
activities to a young and innovative commercial space transportation industry.

“Now, when the private sector is ready to radically reduce the cost and
ease of opening space, the same folks who gave us the million dollar toilet
and the billion dollar X-33 ‘Space Goose’ are once again saying, ‘give us more
money and we will do it for you,”’ concluded Tumlinson.

The Foundation believes a much better plan would be for the U.S. to change
SLIP into a three-step transformation of today’s costly and inefficient space
transportation system — into one which supports the needs of the civilian,
military and private space sectors.
Their three point plan is:

1. Provide broad-based financial and tax incentives to encourage
investment in space plane ventures.

2. Fund the development of experimental space planes or X-vehicles
designed to demonstrate different approaches and technologies.

3. Ban the development of government-designed and specified space planes,
and purchase all launch and space transportation services from the
private sector.

The Foundation coined the term “Cheap Access to Space” and has been a
vocal leader in the fight for opening space to private enterprise for over ten