Independent Report Slams Space Privatization

The final draft of an independent report on the future of the U.S. space program finds significant shortcomings in the plan to restructure NASA as proposed by President Obama. The report, issued this week by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), faults the president’s reliance on commercial launch capabilities as being “issued without an executable strategy, the absence of which may render accomplishment of the policy’s goals problematic.”

The report also cited concerns that a commercialized space program would not meet needs and expectations of the U.S. military, which relies on NASA for access, launch and maintenance of space-based assets.

“Problems identified earlier with government support for the commercial space launch industry that provides major support for U.S. national security interests have not been addressed in the Obama administration’s new National Space Policy, and threaten future military operations if they are not addressed,” said the CSIS study.

Meanwhile, United Space Alliance, NASA’s prime contractor for preparing the space shuttles for flight, followed through on a layoff announcement made earlier this month with furlough notifications to 902 workers in Florida, 478 in Texas and 14 in Alabama.

While additional terminations are possible, the exact number of workers will depend on Congress’ final budget for NASA, says District 166 DBR Johnny Walker. “The IAM has been leading the fight to preserve our nation’s space industry since President Obama first announced plans for cancelling the shuttle and hitching rides to space with Russia,” says Walker. “We’ll continue to fight for our members, their jobs and communities.”

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