TEA Party in Space Platform

The TEA Party in Space Platform is grounded in American exceptionalism and the TEA Party core values of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and free markets.

Our goal is nothing less than the expansion of American civilization into the solar system.  Fifty years ago, the United States was in a Space Race with the Soviet Union.  Our nation applied the strategy we had developed in World War II – a “crash” federal research and development program that spared no expense to accomplish the short-term goal of landing an American on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.  America can no longer afford the big government “crash” model.  We must return to traditional American free-market principles to expand permanently into space.  It was American individuals and businesses who pioneered the wilderness, built a continent-spanning nation, and created the most prosperous economy in the history of humanity.

We must therefore advance the goal of permanently settling the space frontier by fostering private as well as appropriate government activities in space.  We can do so by:

1.      Creating a legal, tax and regulatory framework, that fosters free and competitive markets that increasing private investment in space activities.

2.      Pursuing all federal space activities, especially civilian projects, in such a way as to utilize and strengthen the U.S. commercial space industry, and realigning projects wherever necessary to reinforce, rather than distort, normal market forces.

Only through fiscally responsible policy, which limits government bureaucracy and stimulates the free market, will the United States expand on its leadership in space.  By removing barriers of entry to the utilization of the solar system, new business models become viable.  This sound free-market-based approach will create new sectors of the economy and strengthen America as the vanguard of freedom and opportunity as we spread throughout the solar system.  We will carry forth the American values that made our nation great.  The United States will settle space as it settled the American continent.  The days of Lewis and Clark, and Apollo, are over.

This is the Oregon Trail space policy.

1.  Law and Policy

Congress must implement new policies and reform old space laws to promote the greatest possible private-sector engagement in profitable free-market space activities.  Therefore:

Plank – Congress must reform International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), easing restrictions on U.S. private enterprise from engaging in commerce with friendly countries in the sale of goods and services.  Specifically, and among other things, satellites should be removed from the munitions list.

Plank – Congress must pass legislation capping liability for commercial human spaceflight.

Plank – Zero-G means Zero-Tax. In order to stimulate the growth of the space economy, the tax code must be amended to exempt from taxation, all business activities related to human spaceflight, including suborbital, low earth orbit (LEO), and beyond.

Plank – The Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) shall continue to be the regulatory agency for private spaceflight, including spaceflight carried out by the private sector for the public sector.  NASA shall only have jurisdiction over missions which are exclusively carried out by and for the government.

Plank – Space Property Rights – the US department of State shall be directed to review and amend as necessary applicable international law to ensure the rights of all US private entities are respected, up to and including renegotiation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and the 1972 Liability Convention, and to reiterate US opposition to the 1979 Moon Treaty.

Plank – Congress must order a study to:

  • Determine appropriate roles and responsibilities for existing space-related agencies
  • Evaluate agencies’ performance in those functions where they currently exist
  • Identify potential re-alignment of those functions being performed, including assignment to new agencies
  • Identify homes for those functions currently not being performed, including new agencies.

2.  Economic Policy

For American values to spread throughout the solar system, the United States government must strongly support and utilize free-market principles in how it promotes the settlement of space.  Government agencies including FAA/AST, DOD (including DARPA), and NASA must become a partner of commercial entities and facilitator of market emergence and growth.  These government agencies must also develop sound economic policies for commissioning new missions, project management, and technology development.  Robust free-market competition has been objectively shown to be the most cost-effective means of producing and procuring goods and services.  Therefore:

Plank – NASA shall, when seeking to develop new space capability, first attempt to do so via a partnership with one or more commercial entities using fixed-price Space Act Agreements (SAA).  Failing this, NASA shall still attempt to structure the largest possible fraction of the development as such a partnership.  Cost-plus development contracts should be focused solely on specific challenges that are so technically risky and complex that they require this flexibility

Plank – Under no circumstances will NASA use cost-plus contracts for the development of traditional, rocket-based, launch systems.

Plank – Congress shall fully fund, as requested, the next phase of Commercial Crew Development to ensure the successful development of three or more orbital human spaceflight systems.  NASA shall commit to purchase follow-on service contracts eliminating reliance on Russia for access to the International Space Station and other missions which take place or begin in Low Earth Orbit.

Plank – Congress shall allow NASA to cancel all existing Shuttle, Ares, and Space Launch System contracts terminating the $11 billion dollar earmark in 2010 NASA Authorization Law (Public Law 111-267).  In addition, NASA shall competitively bid the development of any and all human exploration transportation capabilities.

Plank – NASA shall use competitions and prizes whenever feasible to stimulate the private sector, including individual American inventors, to achieve innovative and affordable solutions to technological challenges.

3.  Technology Development

To accelerate the opening of the space frontier and settlement of space, the United States government should form appropriate partnerships with the private sector to cost-effectively develop technologies.  NASA, acting as one of the principal agencies involved in space settlement, will play a primary role in these technology development efforts.  Therefore:

Plank – NASA shall partner with the private sector to identify and fund the development of technologies which shall be useful for the development of a space economy, infrastructure, and settlement. The areas of technology that must be brought to a commercial operational market include (but are not limited to) those which:

  • Lower transportation and operations costs for an ever-expanding list of destinations in space
  • Mitigate detrimental effects resulting from the space environment on human physiology
  • Enable local resources extraction and utilization

Plank – NASA shall partner with the private sector and fund milestone-based development of new technology.  NASA must become more effective in transitioning high-risk high-reward technologies to commercial applications to include:

  • Fuel depots
  • Space tugs
  • Space-based nuclear reactors
  • Space-based solar power generation

Plank – NASA shall partner with the Department of Energy (DOE) and immediately resume production of plutonium ( 238 Pu) to be utilized in outer solar system exploration.