'SKIN IN THE GAME'
Incoming NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin wants to buy crew and cargo deliveries to and from the International Space Station as soon as he can from private commercial providers who have risked money to develop the capability. He has almost $100 million to spend right now, and more in the pipeline.
But first he must accommodate NASA's international partners, who are worried that their ISS components will be left on the ground when the space shuttle fleet is retired at the end of 2010. Some commercial-spaceflight companies don't see the two objectives as mutually exclusive.
"Offloading cargo [from the shuttle manifest] early gives flexibility for the partners while completing the ISS assembly and focusing the shuttle on missions that need human involvement," says Debra Facktor Lepore, vice president for business development and strategic planning at Kistler Aerospace. "It also demonstrates to private investors that there are commercial opportunities in the near term."
In a June 21 appearance before the Space Transportation Assn. in Washington, Griffin didn't limit himself to commercial cargo flights like those Kistler hopes to sell on its K-1 reusable rocket. Outlining his views on using commercial assets to advance President Bush's space exploration goals, Griffin said that while for "strategic" reasons the U.S.
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