NASA, the venerable space administration that rocketed the first man to the moon is in a state of prolonged financial collapse that will eventually consume the organization. Meanwhile innovative corporations such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are expanding at explosive rates and are set to take over the space industry. There is to be a changing of the guard in the near future, hopefully before America losses its lead in the space industry to a more aggressive superpower.
The Launch of Falcon 9 Rocket, which shot the Dragon Space Capsule into space on December 9, 2010. This is not NASA, this is SpaceX; the private space industry has arrived.
Why is NASA Deteriorating?
America is now slowly beginning to recover from perhaps the second worst recession in American history; President Obama has frozen all government spending, putting multiple NASA projects on hold. The Constellation Program, which is necessary to replace the Space Shuttles that are due to be decommissioned in 2012. Any possible moon base construction was eliminated when President Obama struck down the program, due to excessive spending.
The problem with the government funded space administration is that it is government funded. While private firms are free to spend exorbitant amounts of investor’s money, sometimes resulting in bankruptcy, they are allowed to take risks that are very unprofitable in the short term that are very profitable in the long term. NASA has to meet the standard of the government, which means they have to regularly and routinely show that they are needed and are valuable to America’s interests.
NASA is no longer valuable. The group was never founded for scientific purposes, which are currently its only goals at present time. It was founded to counteract Sputnik 1, launched October 4, signaling soviet space aggression. America was aghast, the Russians had surpassed the American sciences, morale plummeted and many questioned if the United States could prevail in the Cold War.
The answer to this question was the formation of NASA, on July 29, 1958. The administration was constructed as a propaganda tool, their goals was to surpass the Russian space program, invigorate the American morale, demoralize the Russian people, and perhaps figure out the logistics of putting nuclear missiles in space.
None of these goals apply to today, the USSR has fallen apart there is no longer a need for large numbers of nuclear missiles. A few more powerful modern nukes are now considered much more useful than several hundred less powerful and expensive to maintain, nukes. This has directly lad to NASA’s steady decline; they no longer have the financial resources to pursue any courses of action effectively.
Private companies are taking advantage of this federal slip up, capitalizing on failing NASA programs and creating new space markets that will make the cosmos accessible to the everyman.
What New Markets Have the Private Space Companies Opened Up?
There are two major corporations that have both pursued the question of space travel in different ways for different goals.
The first successful space corporation is Virgin Galactic. This company has a simple, coherent goal; construct a space port, create a space transportation agency, reap the rewards. International transportation, of people and goods, along with space tourism, will be their two primary goals. Spaceport America, which began construction 2005 in southern New Mexico, is in the final stages of completion. The spaceline, which is what they are calling their five spaceplane organization, is set to launch in Fall, 2011. For $200,000 dollars you can get a seat on SpaceShipTwo and jet off into space.
The second successful corporation is SpaceX. This company endeavors to put satellite in Low Earth Orbit by use of their own private rockets and to begin ferry people out into deep space as well. They successfully launched Dragon, a human space vehicle, using a SpaceX rocket on December 9, 2010. Better yet, they were also able to recover the space vehicle after it reentered orbit.
Both of these companies are capitalizing on the failures of NASA. While NASA freezes up, because it has far outlived its founding purpose, these companies are set to explode across the solar system.
What is the Future of the Space Industry?
The future of the space industry is a race, a race between the independent American corporations and various international superpowers. China, India, and Japan have launched initiatives to put members of their own nationalities in space, hoping to beat America back to the moon and then beating them to Mars. SpaceX and the remnants of NASA, who will be revitalized by the foreign threat similar to their old opponent, will lead the Americans. These four sides will race to every celestial body in the solar system, staking rights and claiming glory. The great race of our times is almost upon us.