The Orlando Sentinel reports a letter sent to Congress by five members of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) states that President Obama's new direction for NASA can be "just as safe, if not more safe, than government-controlled alternatives" and "will achieve higher safety than that of the Space Shuttle."
In contrast to Ares I and Orion, intended to both bring crews to the Space Station and to launch complex exploration missions, the commercial services under consideration as part of the President’s new plan are focused exclusively on the mission of safely transporting humans to low Earth orbit. These services may well use the extensively proven Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles (EELVs) such as Atlas V and Delta IV that have executed thirty-four successful launches in total to date. We anticipate that newer commercial vehicles such as Falcon 9 will also build up a strong history of cargo carrying launches over the next few years.
Click here to read the letter.