Trump Points Toward Private Space Enterprise. Mars Rover Update. Bob Zimmerman,



(Photo: File:PIA17603-MarsCuriosityRover-SheepbedMudstone-20130214.jpg)

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Trump Points Toward Private Space Enterprise. Mars Rover Update. Bob Zimmerman,

NASA and its masters in Congress currently stand at a transition point, balancing two kinds of work: expensive and ambitious exploration missions done as cost-plus contracts by traditional firms like Boeing and Lockheed, and more prosaic near-Earth transit work performed as public-private partnerships with newer firms like SpaceX and OrbitalATK. Facing tight budgets, NASA’s efforts to split resources between the two have resulted in delays on all sides. The new administration promised a chance for advocates of both sides to re-litigate the pros and cons of each approach.

Trump’s comments on the campaign trail and his initial choice of advisers suggested that the businessman would lean toward reeling back NASA’s Mars ambitions and directing more resources to private companies operating in low-Earth orbit or, in the future, near the moon.

But as the transition moved forward, new personnel replaced advisers who had leaned toward the commercial option. When the transition team announced the group it would send to evaluate NASA, only one member had experience in the “new space” sector, rather than at traditional aerospace contractors or in NASA itself. The group’s leader, Christopher Shank, was the policy director on the House Science and Technology Committee, which backed traditional contractors in their fights with disruptive competitors

Dec 24, 2016, 04:25 AM
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