Earlier today, I spoke with a group of women and men who are helping to write the next chapter in human space exploration, creating jobs and opening up endless possibilities for our economy. Innovators and entrepreneurs from around the nation came together this week at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to learn from each other and share ideas about how we can more effectively advance commercial spaceflight.
To reach for new heights and explore farther into our solar system than we have ever before, we are handing off transportation to the International Space Station to the private sector. This will allow NASA to concentrate on developing the deep space capabilities necessary to send humans to an asteroid and Mars. It also will support the creation of American jobs and bring the launches of our astronauts back to U.S. soil. At NASA, we’re committed to having American companies send our astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, rather than continuing to outsource this work to foreign governments.
According to a recent study by the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial space transportation and enabling industries generated $208 billion in economic activity and employed more than 1 million people in 2009, with earnings exceeding $53 billion. That economic impact is only expected to grow.
At NASA, we’re doing our part to help develop this industry, one that until recently largely had been seen as science fiction, but now stands poised to open up this new frontier and transform the space exploration business. That’s good for space exploration – and good for the American economy.
With our space priorities established, NASA is focusing our programs to create a future filled with new achievements, including the area of commercial spaceflight, allowing us to take the next leap in deep space exploration while creating good-paying U.S. jobs.
Lori Garver is the Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.