NASA's Space Launch System Gets Critical Support From Commercial Space IndustryBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
NASA has gained a significant endorsement from the commercial space industry. This is expected to further support the space agency's future missions.
The Verge reported that Alan Stern, the chairman of the board of directors for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), has announced the organization's support for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS). The system includes the massive rocket that the space agency will use to send astronauts into deep space and, eventually, to Mars.
The CSF is a group that represents over 70 businesses and organizations in the commercial space industry. Members of the organization include SpaceX and Blue Origin.
CSF's seal of approval is seen as a shift in attitude for the private sector. This is because some of the strongest opponents of the Space Launch System were developed by members of the group.
According to Space News, the endorsement comes while CSF's member companies are continuing their development of their own heavy-lift vehicles for space. SpaceX will be launching its Falcon Heavy rocket later this year and revealed its plans for a massive booster last year. Blue Origin, on the other hand, is expected to debut a heavy-lift rocket, named the New Glenn, by the end of the decade.
On Tuesday, Stern said in a speech at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference that the organization and its members "believe strongly in the exploration of space of all kinds, including commercial purposes. In the same speech, he announced that the group sees "many potential benefits" in NASA's Space Launch System. He added that they believe that the SLS can be a "resource that benefits commercial spaceflight and makes our future even brighter."
There are speculations that a major factor in the CSF's endorsement of the SLS may be to lessen any political tensions, specifically in the midst of President Trump's transition. There have been previous claims describing SLS as a waste of money especially when commercial alternatives from private companies appear to be much cheaper.
Stern addressed these concerns by saying that the SLS can provide more information on exploration capability as well as a deeper understanding of spaceflight.