Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

NASA.inc: Space Agency Turns Toward Private Sector Partnerships

by Axios | 10.8.18

Given the rapid success of private space companies, NASA has gone through some profound soul-searching about what its role should be in the rest of the 21st century.

The answer: NASA will continue to be a trailblazer for those private sector innovators. In other words, NASA — and not the billionaires — will still be shining the light. Specifically, NASA — which celebrated its 60th anniversary this week — will prove concepts for private missions in low-Earth orbit, to the Moon or Mars, NASA administrator James Bridenstine tells Axios.

What's next: Bridenstine told Axios in June that NASA’s job is not to do the “routine” things, but rather to pioneer new technologies and missions. In certain circumstances then, NASA would be yet one customer among many, he said.

  • The first test of this vision will come when, assuming the Trump administration gets its way, the Space Station is turned over to the private sector sometime after 2024, opening up low-Earth orbit to more commercial applications.
  • In addition, NASA's goal of returning to the moon is in large part motivated by growing commercial interest in activities such as mining, tourism and developing a supply station for deep space missions.

“So what NASA needs to do, in essence, is blaze the trail and then let commercial [entities] come in and continue the operations after the trail has been blazed. And then we go a step further where commercial isn't quite ready or willing to go based on return on investment.”

— James Bridenstine, NASA administrator

Bridenstine has earned negative headlines for recommending the space agency study the possibility of allowing companies to sponsor NASA missions, raising the prospect of rockets painted with company logos or named after them, like sports stadiums. He’s also spoken of the need to make the agency’s astronauts more household names.

They're not alone: It’s not just NASA that is moving aggressively to tap into the capabilities of the private sector. So, too, are other federal agencies active in space, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) new "Ride Share" program for private satellites. NASA is also exploring buying data from private companies to supplement its many Earth imaging satellites.

-Andrew Freedman

(Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios)

Axios

Written by Axios

Follow this Action Center to stay updated on new posts

Leave a comment
(16)
  • KansasTamale
    Voted Oppose
    10/08/2018
    ···

    This is ridiculous. Spending billions of dollars in items like munitions type of Military equipment instead of actually working on cyber military items & research which includes NASA is terrible. This Congress and administration is taking us backwards which will make us even more vulnerable to Russian aggression. And YES it is Russia. NOT China. Smoke & Mirrors. What Trump is BEST AT.

    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
  • Marian
    Voted Support
    10/08/2018
    ···

    My sister who works for Boeing would point out that NASA has always had private partnerships. I once asked a NASA representative what the difference was between the old partnerships with Boeing and McD and the new ones with SpaceX and he said nothing at all. So what does this effort mean?

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • poseidon
    10/09/2018
    ···

    Great idea!

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Azrael
    Voted Support
    10/08/2018
    ···

    We need as much science as we can get

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Matthew
    10/08/2018
    ···

    This is s wonderful idea. That government efforts to bring man to space perhaps if only to satisfy an existential curiosity, is a universally held desire amongst all people. Finding a singular purpose to unite mankind for the betterment of mankind is the hope of all humanity. It is good to encourage private enterprise and to guide that enterprise in the betterment of mankind

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Mary
    Voted Oppose
    10/09/2018
    ···

    The GOP wants to privatize the world. Heaven help us. Putting profits before people has already put our children's futures at risk.

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • 12yanogden
    Voted Support
    10/08/2018
    ···

    When exploring the New World, government sponsored missions like Columbus were not enough. Private companies were the ones that brought people and lasting opportunity.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • clayrosenthal
    Voted Support
    10/08/2018
    ···

    Any way NASA can get more funding is great. As long as the companies sponsoring only get their name and logo on it, and no say in what the mission is or does, I'm all for it.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Tim
    Voted Support
    10/08/2018
    ···

    Go to space.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Bernie
    Voted Support
    10/09/2018
    ···

    Perfect.

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Andrew.Wood
    Voted Support
    10/08/2018
    ···

    Space is already expensive to get to, so people worrying about private companies charging an absurd amount of money to get to space is pointless. A good thing that would come out of this though would be the fact that nations wouldn’t be able to stake claim to territories in space, and it would keep it open to all humans rather than one country. It would also split up the cost of exploration among NASA and private companies, speeding up the process of space exploration.

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Nicholas
    Voted Support
    11/08/2018
    ···

    NASA does a lot of great work, but without the proper funding it only makes sense to contract private companies to help innovate and provide services. This is clever for making space more affordable, but it is NASA that keeps the business safe and moving forward. NASA will need more funding if we expect the commercial space industry to grow.

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • Joey
    Voted Support
    10/18/2018
    ···

    NASA is doing the right thing by finding new ways to get funding

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • Bernie
    Voted Support
    10/09/2018
    ···

    There are cases of tropical islands recording a monthly average of zero degrees — this is the mean of the daily highs and lows for the month. A spot in Romania spent one whole month averaging minus 45 degrees. One site in Colombia recorded three months of over 80 degrees C. That is so incredibly hot that even the minimums there were probably hotter than the hottest day on Earth. In some cases boats on dry land seemingly recorded ocean temperatures from as far as 100km inland The only explanation that could make sense is that Fahrenheit temperatures were mistaken for Celsius, and for the next seventy years at the CRU no one noticed.

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • BeStrong
    Voted Support
    10/10/2018
    ···

    Still.

    Like
    Follow
    Share
  • Alex
    Voted Support
    11/19/2018
    ···

    Haven't they always been doing this sending astronauts up on a Chinese and Russian rockets.

    Like
    Follow
    Share