NASA yields to private sector in strategic 21st-century space race

FPI / September 24, 2021


By Richard Fisher

Was SpaceX corporation founder and leader Elon Musk, in a Sept. 19 tweet, correct to chide President Joe Biden as “sleeping,” when he had failed to comment on Musk having just completed the world’s first privately run and privately manned space mission?

The crew of the world’s first private manned space mission, SpaceX Corporation’s Inspiration4 mission, seen in practice on Sept. 13, before their Sept. 15 launch.

Musk definitely has a point.

As he often evangelizes and as does the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), America’s and very likely, humanity’s future in “the stars” will be built mainly by private companies and intrepid risk-taking entrepreneurs far more than governments.

On Sept. 14, a re-used SpaceX Falcon-9 launcher boosted a re-used SpaceX Dragon capsule, named Inspiration4, as it was manned with four civilians who were not selected by NASA.

Funded by businessman Jared Issacman, the mission raised $210 million for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and after three days the capsule splashed down near Cape Canaveral on Sept. 18.

All four crew members, including Issacman, returned safely. This historic success was certainly worthy of mention by President Biden.

Since the mid-2010s, Musk has regaled audiences with his vision for sending one million humans to colonize Mars.

It is not likely that American taxpayers will be generous to support such a goal, but should Musk’s Starship prove to be the inexpensive “shuttle” to the Moon and Mars as he intends, why should the U.S. government prevent Musk and many other entrepreneurs from leading the exploitation of the Moon and Mars?

The public sector is also being challenged to succeed another U.S. government dominated endeavor: space stations.

By the end of this decade the U.S. government may end its support for the $100+ billion, $4 billion annually to operate International Space Station (ISS) and is looking for private sector successors.

According to a Sept. 20 article by Michael Sheetz on the CNBC web page, NASA has received about one-dozen proposals.

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