Smart

From the AP:

The U.S. space agency is sponsoring a competition in which winning companies will get $500 million in seed money to develop space vehicles that NASA will never design, build or own. Like a U-Haul truck rental, NASA instead will merely lease them on a per-trip basis for sending cargo and eventually crew to the international space station.

The arrangement is unprecedented in the nearly 50-year history of the space agency, which traditionally oversees the development and construction of its own space vehicles instead of purchasing trips from private companies. NASA will pay out the money incrementally for each milestone achieved in the vehicles’ development. After that, the company or companies who win the competition will have to finance the vehicles on their own.

“I consider it to be a big gamble,” Griffin told a U.S. Senate committee recently. “It is well past time for NASA to do everything it can to stimulate commercial space transportation … and I’m trying to do that.”

It might be churlish of me to say “about time,” but… it’s about time.

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5 Responses to “Smart”

  1. JP Says:

    Sounds right up Burt’s alley.
    Scaled is the best bet imho.

  2. Joe Says:

    It will be a giant waste of money. Before he became a celebrity, even Rutan admitted actually going into orbit would be very difficult and expensive. After his little circus stunt, he has, of course, changed his tune. If there really is a compelling commercial reason to go to space, why does NASA have to offer a prize at all? Because there isn’t.

  3. Julie (Synova) Says:

    If there really is a compelling commercial reason to go to space it’s not going to be NASA that finds it.

    This is definately a step in the right direction.

  4. KeithK Says:

    There may well be plenty of compelling commercial reasons to go to space. But there’s a huge hurdle to realizing it due to launch costs. Private sources remain hesitant to finance it because the risk of losing your investment still greatly overshadow the potential for rewards. NASA investment via prizes might stimulate development enough that the industry becomes sustainable through private money.

    Is this the proper role of government/ I’m not sure, but it’s better than having a centralized command and control space program.

  5. philw Says:

    Joe the slow’s great grandfather said “If there really is a compelling commercial reason to build airplanes, why does the gubmint have to offer a prize at all? Because there isn’t.”

    Times change. People don’t.

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