Saving Commercial Crew And Space Technology

Several space activist organizations are on the verge of sending out an alert resembling the following:

Dear Space Activist,

As you know, the President’s budget for NASA was released last month, and so the Congress is beginning the process of digesting and… well, whatever it is they do with it.

Proposed funding increases for two NASA programs of great importance to the grass roots pro-space exploration, development, and settlement community have already provoked some criticism from the usual suspects in Congress: Commercial Crew, and Space Technology. The budget requests $827 million for Commercial Crew, and $699 million for Space Technology.

The good news is that the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations allows any and all Congresspersons to submit “programmatic” funding requests to fully fund, increase, or cut the level of funding for any discretionary federal program. Requests for specific projects are no longer allowed under the “earmark ban”. But Members can ask the Committee to provide full funding for “commercial crew” and the “space technology program” within NASA.

The deadline for such requests being turned in by Members of Congress is in just one week, 5pm on March 20th. So we’re asking you to contact your Member of Congress by the close of business on Monday, March 19th on behalf of full funding for Commercial Crew and Space Technology.

Here’s what you need to specifically do:

  1. If you don’t already know, look up who your U.S. Representative is and find out their DC office phone number. (To find out, go to and enter your zip code.)
  2. Then, call your Representative’s D.C. office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EDT. Remember to be respectful as well as passionate when you talk to them.
  3. Tell the person who answers the phone that you are a constituent and ask to speak with the staff member who handles “NASA Appropriations.” (If they say that’s two different people, ask for the “Appropriations” staffer.). Have your talking points ready (see the end of this alert for some suggestions)
  4. When you have the appropriate staff person on the phone…

    a) tell them that you are a constituent
    b) and you would like your Congressman to request that the House Appropriations Committee fully fund NASA’s Commercial Crew and Space Technology Programs.
    c) and that you want them to turn in a Programmatic Funding Request to the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee on the Committee’s website. (see below for specifics)

  5. Listen to what they say in response. See if they will commit to doing something (at least asking their boss to make this request before the deadline passes). Thank them for listening, and (hopefully) for agreeing to do whatever they say they will do. Hang up.
  6. Then WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY SAID and email the name of the Congressman, the staffer’s name, what the staffer said, and any other comments you have to ACT4SPACE@GMAIL.COM so we can keep track of your accomplishments!

Information you may need to give the staffer to do what you want:

A “Dear Colleague” explaining the FY2013 program request process is at

The staffer will fill out an online form to make this request, including a signed letter from their boss
that confirms the request. (They are probably very familiar with this process.)

Request #1: Commercial Crew

  • Request Type = “Program”
  • Subcommittee/Agency/Account: “Commerce Justice Science, NASA, Exploration”
  • Program Title: “Commercial Spaceflight, Commercial Crew”
  • Description = “Develop new U.S. private sector ISS crew transport systems”
  • Funding = “Support the President’s FY2013 budget request”
  • [They will need to attach a signed letter from their boss endorsing this and any other requests they are making]

Request #2: Space Technology

  • Request Type = “Program”
  • Subcommittee/Agency/Account: “Commerce Justice Science, NASA, Space Technology”
  • Program Title: “Space Technology”
  • Description = “R&D in new innovative space technologies to open the space frontier to human exploration, development & settlement”
  • Funding = “Support the President’s FY2013 budget request”
  • [They will need to attach a signed letter from their boss endorsing this and any other requests they are making]

Thanks very much for contacting your representative in support of full funding for these critical and innovative NASA programs!!!


Suggested Talking Points about Commercial Crew:

  • The CJS bill spends more money in Russia to launch U.S. astronauts than on U.S. companies to develop safer, cheaper, American crew systems. And Russia keeps raising their prices… up 175% in just six years.
  • Commercial Crew will create high-tech, high-paying jobs for Americans, right now, at a time we need them.
  • Commercial Crew is the quickest, cheapest way to reduce the Gap in U.S. human spaceflight and fully utilize our $100 Billion dollar Space Station.
  • Fully funding Commercial Crew will enable multiple systems to fly:
  • demonstrating US leadership in space
  • creating competition which drives innovation and lowers costs, and
  • provides better safety and less risk with independent backups
  • Without fully funding Commercial Crew, billions of dollars and thousands of jobs will go to Russia, instead of staying home in America.

Suggested Talking Points about Space Technology:

  • NASA is laboring with space technology developed in the 1970s.
  • To lower the cost and extend the duration and distance of human spaceflight, NASA needs technologies that will revolutionize how we explore space.
  • New technologies like propellant depots and high-efficiency propulsion will dramatically lower the cost of sending astronauts further into the solar system.
  • Developing new space technologies will also enable new space-based industries, creating even more jobs and economic return from our space program.
  • America needs newer, smarter ways to “do space”, instead of just spending more money to stay ahead of other countries.

So go hit the phones.

4 thoughts on “Saving Commercial Crew And Space Technology”

  1. Pick up your phones, friends and colleagues. Any one of you may make the crucial difference.

  2. No.. have you seen where the CCDev program is going? The only reason NASA is still using SAAs is because they’re not getting “enough” money.. if it wasn’t for that they’d be pressing the FAR on the partners already. The best way forward is obvious: ensure NASA never gets full funding for CCDev. We have to destroy CCDev to save commercial crew.

    1. Trent,

      I agree Congress is doing New Space a favor by keeping the amount small and forcing NASA to be creative and use SAA. More money will just speed the transformation of New Space firms into New Space contractors. The biggest innovations and advancements have always come when firms were a bit starved of cash and needed to be creative.

      BTW that is one reason NACA was so more effective as an organization than NASA. NACA was always cash starved and had to be ingenious while NASA in the Apollo era had money rain down on them and it forever ruined the agency.

      But I guess the mindset here is its NASA money, if it don’t go to our favorite New Space firm then evil Old Space will get it. So you must get into the zero sum game that is the aerospace industry’s frame of mind and go lobby for it!

  3. Trent: Congressional funding tends to end up representing the sum of all the pressures applied on the matter. There is plenty of pressure to cut or defund entirely Commercial Crew. Applying pressure for “full” (IE the requested increase) funding is a necessary counterbalance if you want (as you say you do) to see partial funding. Doing nothing is a good way to see the program get cut to nothing.

    Put another way, if we fight like hell for “full” funding over the next few months, we have a decent chance at seeing a modest increase this year – enough to do some useful work, nowhere near enough to go back to FARS based contracting.

Comments are closed.