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A private spaceflight economy could leave NASA's astronauts behind – Axios



  • But if private industry takes over human spaceflight destinations in low-Earth orbit and funding and political support for NASA missions to Moon or Mars dissipates, there may be no point in having a government-sponsored human

    • On Friday, NASA announced it would create a market for private human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit

      • The agency wants American companies to fly their astronauts first to the The catch: By largely giving up control of human spaceflight in orbit, a region of key importance for Earth science and other discoveries, NASA

        • Today, NASA uses the International Space Station, in part, as a testbed for further exploration of the solar system
        • With the ISS aging towards obsolescence, NASA may be carrying out that research on private space outposts in the future
        • But if, at the same time, deep space missions get delayed or canceled, it's harder to see where NASA astronauts fit into that broader landscape.

        "If the private sector takes over the low-Earth orbit and the political support for exploration dissipates, then what is the rationale for a government program?"

        – John Logsdon, founder of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, to Axios

        Between the lines: It's realistic to imagine NASA's exploration goals will shift in the near or long term. The space agency is constantly facing political whiplash when new administrations take over and impose new spaceflight targets

        • The impetus for getting private companies into the human spaceflight game stems in part from the need to cut NASA's costs of launching into orbit. ] The agency currently spends about $ 1.8 billion of its $ 3 billion to $ 4 billion space station budget on transport
        • But, but, but: It is not clear exactly how much demand will be in the private sector for human spaceflight to low-Earth orbit. A 2017 report looking at the market for a privately run space station found there is no obvious, profit-driven demand for such a facility in orbit, at least not yet.

          For better or worse, sometime in the next decade , the International Space Station program will probably reach the end of its life, bringing a unique and successful venue for international diplomacy to an end

          Where it stands: The ISS has been a source of international collaboration (19659015) Details: Even if NASA's private space stations are now banking on never before, but when the program ends, there is no publicly funded replacement on the way. become reality, eventually the major components of ISS will reach the end of their technical lifespans in the orbit.

          • "[T] The idea here is to begin early so that there could potentially be a private sector space station that serves NASA's needs , "NASA associate adm "This is not the case," said William Gerstenmaier, a professor at the NASA press conference at Nasdaq headquarters in New York on Friday.

          The impact: When space station ends, international collaboration in space could look very different. In fact, it could give way to growing competition instead.

          • U.S. space rival China is planning to have its own space station in orbit by around 2022, but it's unclear what kind of collaboration US
          • NASA's private space stations could be one day host to astronauts from other countries aside from the United States.
          • NASA still plans to collaborate with other space programs on human spaceflight when the station ends. For example, the agency is working with Europe and Japan on its Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon

          Yes but: Private space space stations are less likely to play a big role in space diplomacy,

          • The ISS has acted as a peacekeeping force in the past. (In 2014, for example, Russia and the US were at odds on Earth, but the two countries still needed to cooperate in space.)
          • It remains to be seen if a private space station will be able to fill that role as

Go deep: NASA looks to private companies to help commercialize low-Earth orbit


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