Thursday’s release of the new National Space Transportation Policy didn’t contain much in the way of surprises or other major changes compared to the previous policy or ongoing activities by NASA and other federal agencies. As a result, the official reaction to the policy was generally pretty positive, if bland.
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), ranking member of the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee, said she saw parallels between the policy and a NASA authorization bill she introduced (but failed to get out of committee) in July. “Adopting these shared priorities provides NASA substantive policy direction,” she said in a statement late Thursday. (The policy, of course, goes beyond NASA to address national security and commercial space transportation policy issues as well.)
In the same statement, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), ranking member of the full committee, emphasized safety issues regarding space transportation. “I also want to reiterate my strong commitment to the safety of any U.S. space transportation capability, and I look forward to working with the Administration in ensuring that safety remains the highest priority in the implementation of the National Space Transportation Policy.”
Two different industry groups praised the policy as well, but for different reasons. “A balanced approach between government and commercial efforts will help spur innovation and technology development in a more cost-effective manner than ever done before,” said George Torres, chair of the Coalition for Space Exploration. While the coalition emphasized a balance between the public and private sectors, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation emphasized the support for commercial space transportation in the policy. “We appreciate this clear delineation of policy in favor of supporting American industry, creating the most effective and efficient space program possible and ensuring the nation retains its leadership and competitiveness in space,” said CSF president Michael Lopez-Alegria.
Boeing, a member of both organizations, issued its own statement about the policy, more closely reflecting the Coalition’s emphasis on public-private balance than the CSF’s emphasis on commercial space transportation. “Boeing applauds the president’s balanced approach to developing affordable commercial crew and cargo transportation in areas of proven technology, while he simultaneously accepts the challenge for the United States – as the world’s leader in space exploration – to go far beyond Earth’s orbit,” said Boeing vice president John Elbon in a statement.