Home | Blogs | Andrew Gasser's blog

SLS is a Jobs Program

TEA Party in Space (TPIS) has always stated the position of competing the Space Launch System (SLS).  Not only would this avenue promote innovation and competition, but would compete ideas in the private sector as well as creating jobs.  We have been attacked in the past for calling SLS in its current form, "a government jobs program", when it reallty was.  Now we have proof.

Today the mayor of Houston, Mayor Annise Parker, and the mayor of Huntsville, Mayor Tommy Battle, sent a joint letter to the president asking him to speed up the new SLS system.  According to the article, between the two cities, there have been 5,300 jobs lost since the retirement of shuttle, Constellation was canceled, and before SLS was announced.  Were these government employees feeling the pain or was it the private sector contractors who supported NASA?

Sadly, this is what happens when you have generations dependent on government.  Since the 1960s both Houston and Huntsville have depended on hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars to conduct the nation's business in space.  There comes a point when the private sector, the free market, must be allowed to enter the arena and compete.  Our nation simply cannot afford the expenditures it will take to complete the SLS.

What these two cities are experiencing is nothing special.  All across America cities that depend on federal dollars, such as military and NASA cities, are taking hits and they will continue to take hits as this economy continues to head south.  TPIS refuses to play the partisan blame game of who is responsible for what program failing when.  It doesn't matter and it never did.  Our nation has a dependency problem and a spending problem.  The tea party is all about fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.  Political party and affiliation means nothing to us at TPIS and we have the track record to prove it.

NASA does not enjoy the liberty of receiving a waiver from budget cuts just because they are NASA.  Budget cuts apply to America's space program too.  NASA must do better and we believe they can.  If one looks at the internal report at NASA showing a total expenditure of $140 billion plus before 2030, that is frightening.  Worse, that plan doesn't allow for the development of things America would need to, you know, actually explore.  Competition of SLS would solve that problem freeing up billions of dollars but NASA has said it will not compete the boosters anytime soon.  Instead NASA will use the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and sole source, cost plus contracting.  This is the recipe for disaster that doomed Constellation and continues to plague JWST.

Ultimately, we need to move to a private sector model of space exploration where NASA simply pays for services.  In some cases it may also have to help develop those technologies with the private sector as they require new services.  This is nothing new.  If NASA can do that with North American, Rockwell, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin; NASA can do it in the future as well.  Many people outside of politics see it, some do not.  Only time will tell.  However, it will be interesting to see how the local tea parties react as fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets come knocking on their doors.



User Login