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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: Great!!
By ayat101 on 8/25/2009 12:16:11 AM , Rating: 2
Over the next hundred years the best we can do is settle on the Moon. We do not have the resources for anything else - I am talking about the whole world here.

Colonising the Solar System will in my mind take on the order of a few thousand years. After that, there will not be a high danger of us getting wiped out. Plus technology may not always advance quickly, but it does not move back, sometimes it just stays stagnant.

Short of some amazing new technology making space travel easy, there is NO economic case for space colonisation. Period. Combine this with the expense, and we may as well NEVER do it.

Settling the Solar System should be done in terms of spreading out the human race. Coupled with the above economical/resource constraints, you have to start small and proceed slowly. Moon first. Solar system next.

Once the Solar System is settled, we will have enough resources overall to build an interstellar ship... the resources of a whole system is what is required in my mind. The difficulties of interstellar travel without some sort of a "warp drive" are just mind boggling. For one, at sublight, we probably need to learn how to make antimatter and develop it as fuel, as otherwise even fusion does not provide enough energy per unit mass to offset the relativistic mass increase at high speeds... once your speed increases your mass by the mass turned to energy in your fuel, you can not move faster.


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