NASA Considers Outsourcing Space Travel
With NASA facing massive budget cuts, the scientific powerhouse must now consider ferrying cargo and astronautics into space through private companies, a first for the agency. Proponents of the outsourcing idea argue that non-governmental organizations would foot the bill for research and hope to make profit from providing services or creating products with the resulting developments. As seen at the 50th anniversary of NASA, the research provided by the governmental agency has brought many modern products to fruition.
Private companies must often react faster to developments to stay viable, while NASA relies on huge government expenditure. While a presidentially appointed commission finds in favor of outsourcing space travel, concerns remain over safety and security of the technology developed privately. The Wall Street Journal discusses the details involved in the decision,
In the face of severe federal budget constraints and a burgeoning commercial-space industry eager to play a larger role in exploring the solar system and perhaps beyond, these people said, a consensus for the new approach seems to be building inside the White House as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Under this scenario, a new breed of contractors would take over many of NASA’s current responsibilities, freeing the agency to pursue longer-term, more ambitious goals such as new rocket-propulsion technology and manned missions to Mars. Ranging from conventional start-ups to firms created by wealthy entrepreneurs, these contractors would take the lead in servicing the International Space Station from the shuttle’s planned retirement around 2011 through at least the end of that decade.
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