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Countdown to the Last Shuttle Launch: Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Discusses Challenges

Satellite Technology

Satellite Technology Feature Article

July 08, 2011

Countdown to the Last Shuttle Launch: Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Discusses Challenges

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Kennedy Space Flight Center, Florida - The President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) said his organization’s biggest challenge is making legislators aware of the breadth of commercial spaceflight companies and the benefits they can bring to NASA and the nation, while the industry as a whole needs to receive continued funding and resources to grow.

“NASA can focus on other thing with resources as tight as they are in the 2012 budget,” said Admiral Craig Steidle (Retired).”It’s not only new entrants with innovative ideas, but Boeing and Lockheed Martin (News - Alert) to Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, and XCor.”

Despite what some in the media and Congress have said, the commercial spaceflight industry is “about where they should be,” Steidle stated. “There is a plan in place from the commercial space flight industry, cargo first, then crew… you will see the commercial space industry working with NASA, working with these pieces, doing demonstrations, working towards [NASA safety] certification.”

Being able to provide commercial services to deliver crews to the International Space Station (ISS) is one of the objectives member companies are focused on. It’s one that should save money and established continued U.S.manned access to space.

“At $63 million a seat, times 10 seats, that’s $630 million,” commented Steidle. “We can focus on the allocation of those resources towards commercial space, we can get ourselves off of [Russian Soyuz] dependency and continue to develop the [national] industrial complex.”

While manned space flight efforts are getting a lot of exposure this week, CSF members cover a gamut of capabilities, including spaceports to launch rockets, suborbital services, orbital services, and the technologies to support all those efforts.

For the most part, the member companies are one happy family, with only “professional differences” which CSF manages as “part of our job,” Steidle said. When it comes to approaching government agencies for help with a particular issue or problem, there’s “consistent support” with members pulling together around a common position.  

Steidle has been CSF president since May. Before joining the organization, he served as a senior NASA official, Navy flag officer, program manager, aerospace engineer, and a Navy pilot. He was the first Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems at NASA, starting efforts to foster commercial space transportation to the International Space Station. During his service in the Navy, he headed up the F/A-18 program and served as an early director of the Joint Strike Fighter.

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Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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