Finding a Commercial Development Path for Getting People in Space
September 26, 1995
Author: David Smitherman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
Abstract: The last major plan for the human exploration of space was the Space Exploration Initiative, which stalled in Congress through lack of funding. Its emphasis was on sending astronauts to Mars and returning them safely — but, its cost was a staggering half trillion dollars — dwarfed only by the enormous Federal debt facing the American taxpayer. Recent public opinion polls show that the space program is losing ground to many other concerns. How can we justify spending public money to send astronauts to Mars when we can’t even get the average American citizen into low-Earth-orbit? How can space exploration flourish in the foreseeable future when America is faced with a Federal debt approaching 5 trillion dollars? An approach to this problem is through the pursuit of a commercial development path that will yield economic growth to support a growing commercial space program. Such growth will stimulate economic expansion and broaden the tax base that will ultimately help in the repayment of the debt. In other words, space development can generate new wealth. Important new findings will be explored and laid out in an orderly scenario to show how commercial space development can occur.
Full paper availability at:
NASA Technical Report Server: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19920014400
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics: https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/6.1995-3651