WASHINGTON, D.C.The Space Enterprise Council of the United States Chamber of Commerce today issued a position paper urging Congress to fully fund NASA’ss Space Launch Initiative (SLI) in the budget process to make space transportation more available and affordable for commercial use. 

“We need a new generation of internationally competitive, affordable and reliable space launch vehicles in order to tap the commercial potential of space,” said Dawn Sienicki, executive director of the Space Enterprise Council. “With full funding, SLI will make critical technology investments for the next generation of launch vehicles, while NASA continues to maintain and upgrade the space shuttle.” 

SLI provides the framework for developing a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) that would increase safety and reliability and lower the cost of access to space for government and industry. The program has already resulted in contracts awarded to 20 prime contractors and two universities and affected nearly 160 sub-contractors through the promotion of industry competition. 

“We believe these results offer a positive indication of SLI’ss potential,” said Mark Bitterman, senior vice president of Orbital Sciences Corporation and chairman of the Space Council’ss Policy Committee. “It is difficult to convince Congress that a program is producing results in the absence of flight testing, and that’ss why the space community is committed to rallying widespread support for SLI in this year’ss budget.” 

The Chamber launched the Space Enterprise Council (www.uschamber.com/space) in 2000 to bring industry together with the federal government on commercial space initiatives. The Council’s members – representing an array of aerospace, telecommunications, finance, legal, advertising and other companies – are working to advance the interests of U.S. businesses in the commercial development of space. 

The United States Chamber of Commerce is the world’ss largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.