To recognize the successful NASA and industry partnership, AIA Vice President for Space, Frank Slazer joined NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, Orbital Sciences Vice President Frank Culbertson Jr., NASA Manager of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Alan Lindenmoyer, and NASA Director of Commercial Spaceflight Development Phil McAlister for a news conference at NASA Headquarters on November 13.
“The commercial space industry will be an engine of 21st century American economic growth and will help us carry out even more ambitious deep space exploration missions," said Bolden. Bolden also awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Award to COTS Program Manager Alan Lindenmoyer, Orbital and SpaceX.
Slazer remarked that the COTS program has strengthened America’s space industrial base at a time when the difficult federal budget environment has placed downward fiscal pressure on the space industry. “Right now, NASA’s budget is under a lot of threat between sequestration as well as the overall decline in the federal spending” said Slazer. The savings seen through the COTS program are enabling a cost-effective way to sustain ISS until 2020, and hopefully beyond.
Slazer noted that the approximately $800 million dollars invested in COTS is about the cost of one Space Shuttle flight. This relatively low investment by the government was made possible by the U.S. space industry co-investing its own capital in the development of these new systems. The COTS program yielded two new launch systems and two new cargo delivery capabilities for the nation – systems that are now being used to re-capture commercial launch business in our country.
Looking at the future benefit of this type of program, Slazer remarked, “AIA believes that COTS has pointed the way for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program as the most expedient way to reestablish independent U.S. crew access to the station.”
In addition to providing direct service to the ISS, COTS has also freed resources for NASA’s other important human spaceflight mission, beyond low Earth orbit exploration. Slazer noted that the investment in COTS has allowed NASA to focus on developing the Orion Multi-Purpose Crewed Vehicle (MPCV) and the Space Launch System (SLS) for exploration beyond low Earth orbit. “COTS has shown… that leadership in space by our nation isn’t just something that we can look back fondly on, but is our road to the future, and something that we’re going to continue to excel in.”
To watch the full press conference recording from NASA TV, click here.