open letter sent to Congress today by more than 50 space leaders, including our own Joseph Palaia. The letter urges Congress to fund the commercial crew to Space Station program and accelerate the pace of NASA's human exploration beyond Earth orbit. These priorities are not mutually exclusive because a robust commercial crew and cargo program to low-Earth orbit will allow NASA to focus on deep space transportation and exploration systems.
Historically, governments have blazed the trail into new frontiers and paved the way for private enterprises to transform society. Queen Isabella publicly sponsored the voyage of Columbus, which in turn boosted worldwide trade. Thomas Jefferson publicly funded Lewis and Clark to venture west across North America, which opened the frontier for settlers 50 years later. Aviation is similar to human spaceflight; once airlines started competing to carry passengers farther and faster, prices went down, safety went up, and massive economic gain was generated as an emergent effect of this new industry. Opening space to commercial companies will do the same over time.
A4H is establishing itself as a leader in developing a pool of highly qualified astronauts who can be hired by companies as crewmembers on parabolic, suborbital, and orbital flights. A4H plans to play a major role in the commercial crew initiative and in the process will actively reach out to students, inspiring them towards careers in space.
The full 10-page letter is available at SpaceRef.com or in PDF format from the Orlando Sentinel.