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
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.
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
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.