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NASA will rely on contractors to help pick up additional tasks as the U.S. space agency deals with money issues

Facing growing financial issues that may eliminate future missions to the moon and Mars, NASA may be prepared to let private contractors have a larger role in its future space endeavors.

President Barack Obama hasn't made any official decisions regarding the future of NASA, but several unnamed government officials and other space experts claim the private sector will be responsible for a larger amount of NASA-backed missions.

Currently, each shuttle launch is government-led, including the use of the current space shuttle fleet, but cost restraints may end up crippling anticipated missions.  During the previous administration, former President George W. Bush outlined a plan for NASA to return to the moon, but Obama's blueprint involves $30 billion to $50 billion less than what was expected over the next decade.

Outsourcing work to the private sector would allow the federal government to save the $30 billion to $50 billion, with contractors expected to help develop rocket-propulsion technology and plan manned launches to Mars.

As space nations outline plans to return to the moon by 2025, NASA is unlikely to launch a manned mission to the moon by 2020, as necessary funding will simply be unavailable.  The U.S. space agency is currently unable to finance any manned launches anywhere past the International Space Station (ISS) at the moment, according to former astronaut Dr. Sally Ride, who said NASA "just can't get there," regarding the moon.

Once the current space shuttle fleet is retired -- which is expected to take place in 2010 -- private contractors will help NASA get back to the ISS, along with the Russian space agency.

If NASA continued with its current budget, a return back to the moon wouldn't be possible until 2028, if not later.

Obama recently put together the Human Space Flight Committee of space experts and politicians to study how feasible it would be to launch towards the moon or Mars, but "at the end of the day, the President will make the decision, not a committee."

Until a final decision is made, the future of the U.S. space agency remains extremely confusing for the public, politicians, and contractors who may be called upon to help NASA with future space missions.

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RE: The commercialization of space exploration..
By ipay on 8/24/2009 6:20:59 AM , Rating: 2
There's no profit in space exploration per se.

However, there are massive profits to be made from space mining. If you refer to:

you'll see that NASA itself has estimated that the total wealth in our solar system's asteroids is approximately $100 billion for every one of the 6+ billion people on Earth - in other words, six hundred billion billion dollars in total.

If we ignore the purely monetary side and instead look at colonisation - it has been estimated that the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter could support a total human population of 7,500 trillion people.

By HotFoot on 8/24/2009 8:17:28 AM , Rating: 1
Time to mak-eh the babies.

By Yeco on 8/24/2009 8:55:20 AM , Rating: 2
That may all be true but with our current state of technology it would cost more to go and get it, then the price you can sell it. Even for Helium-3, a proces we don't controle yet!

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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