After 30 years of doing business the same way, NASA is finally entering the 21st century by embracing competition, capitalism and entrepreneurship. In NASA's new budget, President Obama and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden have proposed spending billions of dollars to purchase commercial human launch services and invest in game changing technologies.
Many of the traditional players have translated this to mean that NASA's "Moon Mission" has been canceled, that NASA is out of the exploration business and is making a risky move turning over the 'right stuff' from Government hands to entrepreneurs and commercial industry. In reality, NASA is making a brilliant move.
During the past 30 years the cost of getting humans into space has gone up, while reliability has gone down. Rather than have two or three commercial suppliers of human spaceflight, we have been solely dependent on the Space Shuttle. When the Shuttle stands down from service in a year's time, NASA will need to send American Astronauts to Kazakhstan to launch aboard the Russian Soyuz at a price of over $50 million per person... Until, at least, new commercial U.S. vehicles are made operational.
The U.S. Government doesn't build your computers, nor do you fly aboard a U.S. Government owned and operated airline. Private industry routinely takes technologies pioneered by the government and turns them into cheap, reliable and robust industries. This has happened in aviation, air mail, computers, and the Internet. It's about time that it happen in space.
The President's plan for commercial competition will ultimately take us much farther and much faster, not only to the Moon, but to Mars, the asteroids and beyond. Private companies will drive a very high level of safety because they will cease to exist if they do not. America's capitalist engine drives reliability in our aircraft, our cars, our computers and will do so in space, as well. Private companies will also inject innovation and breakthrough technology into our space program because that is their ethos.
So, I applaud the President's bold decision for NASA to focus not on their past glories, but on building a sustainable space exploration program that can inspire all of us. Today's decision has laid the ground for the future Apple, Cisco and Google of space to be born, drive job creation and open the cosmos for the rest of us.
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