Topic of the Week: Commercial vs. Government - MyMoon

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Welcome to this week's Topic of the Week!

And, it's a bit of a hot button...

Back in 2011, NASA's Constellation program was cancelled in favor of investment in private space efforts:

“The President’s Budget cancels Constellation and replaces it with a bold new approach that invests in the building blocks of a more capable approach to space exploration…” -Official White House website, 2011 Budget fact Sheet

The idea being to support the efforts at creating a private space industry, in order to both prompt space exploration and build the economy.

But, it's hard to argue with the 'oomph' in exploration (and especially, say, lunar base construction) that NASA can provide, and perhaps the canning of the lunar program entirely was too heavy a hammer.

What do you guys think?

The railroad and aviation industries provide interesting precedents---initial government development, followed by more private takeover.

What should NASA's role be, and what should commercial space's role be?

Should we have NASA focus on building its own program, or helping support the development of the field as a whole?

Or, should we just cut the Defense budget in half and have NASA do both? ;)

I personally agreed that Constellation wasn't perhaps the best program, and that supporting the economy was smart, but NASA should be more assertive in doing something---either building their own program, or making moves towards support, e.g. space law, infrastructure (lunar wi-fi better be fast!), and other areas.There's certainly room for some leadership (who else is taking the initiative? It's there for the taking, and there's some serious reward to being the one to step forward), and I think NASA really could go in some innovative, valuable directions.


Abhimat G.

Tuesday May-15-2012

I like to think that NASA's role in space exploration should be to focus on the exploration of outer space for scientific purposes, and to guide human space exploration to further, more ambitious locations. Private space efforts, on the other hand, would probably focus on more entrepreneurial aspects, like tourism and mining, since they would need to be profitable in order to cover the high costs. Those goals are different enough that I feel that both NASA and the private industry should be developing their own efforts.

NASA should continue assisting the exploration of the solar system with spacecrafts and develop human missions to reach the Moon again, and pursue further human exploration to places like Mars and asteroids. There may be others in the private space industry that share the same intents as well, and they should be definitely allowed to pursue those goals. However, I feel that NASA should continue supporting their own programs as well since they may be the organization with the biggest resources.

One area where there can be many benefits is in sharing ideas. If the private space industry or NASA develop novel technologies on their own, they should share it with each other to allow benefiting the overall progress of space exploration. Keeping it internally within their organizations wouldn't be very helpful for progress, and could create another space race between the private industry and NASA.

Emily C.

Wednesday May-16-2012

Hmmm NASA with out the government influence would be nice...if it was its own program they could focus on whatever "in the name of science" needs to be done with out the political influence coming from the government/their funding. But if you consider the railroad and aviation industries as precedent areas, eventually, after private takeover, became divided between many companies. Would/Do we want NASA breaking apart into separate "space companies"?

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