(Washington, D.C.): As the President’s National Space Council meets this morning to consider the future of the National Aerospace Plane (NASP), the Center for Security Policy released a paper calling for a dramatically new approach to this promising technology program.
The Center’s Director, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., in releasing this paper, entitled The Bush Administration Must Take the Initiative to Get the National Aerospace Plane off the Ground, noted that, "America’s space program is at a strategic crossroads. Decisions are now being made that will determine whether this country has reliable, affordable access to space and maintains its technological leadership in the aerospace field."
Gaffney added that, "The National Space Council is to be commended for preventing the effective termination of the NASP program that would have resulted from the recent, revised Defense Department request for FY1990. Unfortunately, the Council has yet to take the actions required if this program is to be brought to fruition — namely, providing the aggressive milestones and attendant funding needed to ensure the success of this developmental effort."
The Center’s paper describes the serious crisis developing for this vital program as Congress, perceiving inadequate Administration support for the NASP, begins to eviscerate its budget. It also offers specific recommendations for restructuring the Space Council’s current approach to the Aerospace Plane, including:
- NASP must become a high profile, "national" program funded at a level determined by the maturity of the associated technology.
- Accordingly, the NASP must not be conducted as a "black" or special access Air Force program; resource allocation decisions must be made henceforth by the Space Council — not the Defense Department or NASA.
- Clear and purposeful programmatic objectives and milestones must be established, including a decision now to build a useful prototype aircraft to fly by 1995.
The Center’s paper on NASP is attached.