Science/Tech

Does NASA Rely Too Much On SpaceX, Other Private Companies For Space Projects?

The increased White House-approved budget for future space exploration opened greater opportunities for SpaceX to establish a permanent residence on the Moon. The program reuses spacecraft and rockets to drive down costs for further space exploration. The lacking budget may have paved the way for commercial partnerships to extend lunar missions.

NASA previously said that the tight budget resulted in a substantial delay of its lunar missions. With the recently approved budget, the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter may see the light of day come 2023, reported CNBC. The International Space Station (ISS), which sought to build habitats while in orbit, may also improve its operations due to the budget. However, the $10 billion alloted budget is not sufficient to support the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.

Although traditionalists desired NASA to continue with its SpaceX collaborations, the latter lacked the necessary investment to achieve their goals faster. The cost-cutting initiatives of the government-funded entity were feared to be insufficient if NASA were to add more rockets and aircraft for space explorations, according to The Verge.

Instead, many experts urged NASA to source their assets through private companies to expand their projects. For the Dragon cargo capsule alone, the government entity acquired $307 million while the Cygnus capsule had a budget worth $251 million. Similarly, NASA also needed at least $19 billion when it launched Orion. Although the Crew Dragon was a success, it incurred a delay in achieving mission goals due to the lack of funding, as per Scientific American

The approved budget was said to fund further missions in the next 10 years. The operational costs of launching every project to space were lodged at around $1 billion per flight. Thus, the entry of commercial companies was said to increase the number of missions.

Budget shortages for NASA has caused a delay in completing missions. The approval of a heftier allowance is now expected to fund more space exploration projects. However, commercialized missions such as those with SpaceX are likely to require more funding. This could lead the government to start engaging in more commercial partnerships in the future. 

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