Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fierce urgency of NOW for US space industry

L2 Depot with Orion CEV and DTAL-C docked, notional concept featured in "A commercially-based lunar architecture," October 12, 2010 [United Launch Alliance/AIAA].

Jeff Foust
Space Politics

The president of Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne had a blunt warning this week for policymakers: get a plan in place for NASA’s future now or industry will suffer the consequences.

“NASA has a very short period of time to work with Congress and come up with a unified position and get their act together, and let industry know what’s going on,” Jim Maser told reporters in a roundtable Monday in Washington. “We’ve got to pick something, we’ve got to move on.”

Maser said he was concerned about the effect of extended uncertainty about NASA’s future plans on an industry already challenged by low flight rates and an unstable supplier base. He described one specific supplier of a component for the RL-10 rocket engine that still does business with him because the owner “wants to be part of the space business”. That owner, he added, is in his 80s, and his heirs don’t share that passion.

“With this uncertainty I would think there’s a fair number of second- and third-tier suppliers” who are rethinking their commitment to the industry, he warned. “In the absence of a decision in the next four to eight months, I think companies will be making decisions about space.”

Read the full article, HERE.

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