A federal aerospace panel has warned that NASA could face serious safety issues if it carries out plans to rely on private companies to send its astronauts into space in the future. “The Obama administration has been devising a plan to outsource a chunk of its manned space program to private companies in order to speed up rocket development, save money and focus federal dollars on longer-term expeditions. But a report released last week by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, an outside safety watchdog for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, cautioned that the private space companies rely on ‘unsubstantiated claims’ about safety and need to overcome major technical hurdles before they can safely carry astronauts into orbit. The report urged NASA to stick with its current government-run manned space ventures, and said that switching to private alternatives now would be ‘unwise and probably not cost-effective.’ The safety panel's recommendation could force the Obama administration to rethink how far and how fast it wants to go in embracing commercial options.”