The incoherence of NASA policy is on full display this week. On Tuesday morning and apparently on an distant planet, NASA and reps of its biggest contractors held a choir meeting to sing the praises of the $3B per year SLS/Orion program*: Contractors Pitch SLS as Everybody’s Rocket – SpaceNews.com.
On Tuesday afternoon and back on earth, NASA and Robert Bigelow held a briefing to announce the findings of a study by Bigelow Aerospace into the potential for commercial firms to contribute to NASA’s deep space activities. The report (not yet released publicly) finds that NASA must rely on commercial partners if it is to accomplish anything in deep space because of the agency’s falling budget: Bigelow to press US government on lunar property rights – Space Politics
Today NASA and its Commercial Cargo programs held a news conference to hail the successful creation and operation of two rocket and spacecraft systems for less than half the cost of a single shuttle mission. The event included appeals to Congress to fully fund the Commercial Crew program.
So NASA is draining its smaller and smaller budget away on Orion and SLS (for which it cannot afford to build any payloads) and simultaneously it is supporting programs that create tremendous capabilities for a fraction of standard NASA costs. Truly a 21st Century Schizoid Agency.
Stephen C. Smith also notes the contradictions on display: One Way or the Other – Space KSC
More space policy/politics related items:
- With tight budget, NASA may see more private partnerships – USA Today
- Bigelow to press US government on lunar property rights – Space Politics
- Companies Want a Piece of the Moon : Discovery News
- Moon Mining Rush Ahead? – National Geographic
- Private property rights in space: still a bad idea – doctorlinda
- Editorial: U.S. must reboot space exploration – Iowa State Daily: Opinion
- Acquisition of the New “Space Fence” Will Improve Security
- Think space exploration isn’t moving fast enough? You’re not alone. – The Daily Planet
- NASA Hails Success of Commercial Space Program Private Space Station Resupply Underway, Plans Readied for Astronauts – NASA
- Arnold: Someone else’s mission to Mars – Framingham, MA – The MetroWest Daily News
Here’s a video in which Robert Bigelow talks about the space property rights issue: Hotel tycoon Bigelow wants to establish private property rights on the moon – CNBC –
* Among a number of absurd statements made at the event, John Elbon of Boeing claimed that the SLS would offer similar per kilogram to orbit costs as Falcon Heavy and other commercial launchers. This, of course, is nonsense. It no doubt comes from using NASA’s notoriously nonsensical marginal cost numbers that don’t include development costs nor annual program costs but only the incremental materials and services costs to make the rocket.