Three NASA programs are killing America’s manned and womanned space program: a rocket called the Space Launch System, a space capsule called The Orion, and a new mini-space station with a macro price, The LOP-G. These programs are bleeding $36 billion from NASA’s budget, money we could use to land on the moon to stay. Funds we need to begin the colonization of Mars.

The Space Development Steering Committee is launching an online petition on to stop the Space Launch System, the Orion capsule, and the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway. The petition’s goal: to save America’s space program. To save it so that Americans are the first to set up housekeeping on the Moon and the first to build a village on Mars.

To sign the petition, go to

The Space Launch System, or SLS, has been under development for thirteen years and is costing NASA $30 billion dollars. A single SLS launch will cost up to two billion dollars. For that price, you could buy 22 SpaceX Falcon Heavy launches. Yes, 22 launches. Adding to the agony, the SLS uses antique technology—technology left over from the 1960s. The SLS has never flown. And even if it gets off the ground one day, this incredibly expensive rocket cannot be reused and will be thrown away after a single flight. The Space Launch System’s bloated budget is one reason Americans have not been able to travel to space on American rockets for seven years and that we’ve had to buy trips to the International Space Station from Russia since 2011 at a total cost of four billion dollars. The Space Launch System is stealing the money we need to actually get to space. On American rockets.

The Orion capsule supplements the SLS rocket as a spacecraft for crewed missions to the moon, the asteroids, and Mars. Like the SLS, it is not yet finished. Worse, its development will cost up to $20 billion dollars. And for all that money, it is too small to carry humans to Mars. Even worse, it cannot land on the Moon or on the Martian surface. In other words, it’s useless. It’s another space program killer.

The Deep Space Gateway—sometimes called the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOPG)–is also useless. In theory, it’s a small space station that will orbit the moon. However, it has no scientific value. And like the SLS and the Orion, the Gateway will stop us in our tracks. It will drain away the dollars NASA needs to actually land on the surface of the Moon and to set up a lunar base.

Why are the SLS, the Orion, and LOPG so expensive? And why do Congressmen and Senators insist on shoving them down NASA’s throat? They are pork. They are boondoggles. They are jobs programs disguised as space programs. They are nipples in the mouths of the companies of the Space Military Industrial Complex. And they are pure poison. They will force us to watch helplessly from the LOP-G as the Chinese set up the first lunar base and make the first human touchdown on Mars.

America’s space program needs low cost, safe access to space. Yes, low cost. We can achieve this by using reusable rockets developed by America’s new private companies. Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. And by using orbiting and lunar habitats developed by firms like Robert Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace. The low cost of launch from SpaceX and Blue Origin could allow us put together a complete Moon and Mars program—two entire space programs–for the cost of development of just one of NASA’s three overpriced space-killers—the Space Launch System. It’s time to end these toxic programs. All three of them.


The Space Development Steering Committee is a space activist group dedicated to making life multiplanetary. Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Edgar Mitchell have belonged to the Committee, and its members have also included professionals from NASA, aerospace companies, the Department of Defense, and The National Space Society.