NASA announced this week that about 12 private space companies have submitted proposals to build a private space station in low Earth orbit. Space exploration.

News also comes when NASA announces that it will reorganize its office of exploration and human operations missions into two new stations within the agency. The first is called Exploration Systems Development (ESD) and is led by Jim Free, a former associate administrator at NASA.

Kathy Leaders, who now heads the Office of the Exploration and Human Operations Mission, will operate a second new station called Space Operations (SO). Missions to stations, orbital flights, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Courtesy of CNBC, news of the transition to the private space station comes from a recent report highlighting the aging of the International Space Station (ISS). Shallow cracks propagated along the surface of at least one module, the station suffered a catastrophic anomaly due to a misfiring of the propellant of a docked Russian module, and a drop in atmospheric pressure was reported in the crew occupancy section of the station. Has been and shows potential air leaks.

The station has been in continuous service since 2000, and 21 years has long been exposed to the destruction of the vacuum of space. The ISS will continue to operate until 2024 and could extend its mission until 2028, but the Russian Federation has shown that it will not stay after 2024, and the ISS is not surprising. The service will be terminated.

Operating the ISS costs NASA around $ 4 billion a year. This is a considerable sum, given that we are head-on on the Artemis lunar landing mission, which is expected to return humanity to the moon as early as 2025.

The restructuring of NASA is not surprising given its new focus beyond Earth orbit. At City Hall, where NASA staff announced the separation of the two stations, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that whatever NASA’s interesting plans, Artemis’ mission must take precedence over anything else. paddy field.

“This is our goal and it is our responsibility. Many new technologies need to be developed for the Moon and Mars, and we need to foster an international partnership with us. “

Nelson also sees it as demoting or pushing Lueder, who has led NASA’s successful partnerships with private companies such as SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) in recent years, through the commercial crew program of the NASA. He stressed that it shouldn’t be.

Instead, it is the recognition that as NASA’s ambitions expand, the structure of the institution must evolve accordingly. Nelson said the responsibility for the management of orbital flight, space stations and current Artemis missions was just “too great.” You can’t do it all yourself.

The main goal of the ESD leadership is to develop the kind of technology NASA needs to safely send astronauts, including the first women and the first colored races, to the moon and back to Earth safely. A gateway space station orbiting the moon helps facilitate the construction of permanent establishments on its surface.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

SpaceX allows NASA to go higher and further

You can’t avoid the fact that this wouldn’t happen without SpaceX. There are currently large private space companies operating in partnership with NASA to power the ISS and put payloads into orbit, but almost all of them have been rebuilt or Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, etc. It is a joint venture between companies.

All have worked with the US government since the 1960s and have enjoyed a steady stream of lucrative contracts for decades, but the inevitable bloat begins to emerge, military and aerospace legacy. He’s an entrepreneur.

Boeing and SpaceX both won contracts for crew capsules to transport astronauts from US soil to the ISS, eliminating the need for NASA to rely on Russian Soyuz rockets and pay for transit. paddy field. The competition should be close to see which company could first bring the crew’s capsules into space, dock them on the ISS using an unmanned spacecraft, and finally transport the astronauts to the ‘ISS. It turned out not to be.

Boeing suffered a mind-boggling retirement when the Starliner’s crew capsule encountered a thruster anomaly during a mission to an unmanned spacecraft that failed to dock with the ISS in December 2019. Since that mission, Boeing has not been able to return the Starliner to space, and in early August an “unexpected valve position” brought the Starliner back to the hangar, eliminating hope of another launch attempt. before 2022. Sometimes another launch failure would occur on the launch pad. .

Meanwhile, SpaceX not only transported cargo to the ISS for years and safely transported 10 astronauts to the station, but last week’s successful Inspiration 4 mission consisted entirely of civilian crew and SpaceX. Fully operated by.

It may be a coincidence that NASA is making these announcements and changes, but SpaceX, which passed LEO’s successful commercialization threshold without government backing last week, has its technical sophistication and space. It tells the story of operational experience. Space operations have reached a level of maturity that frees NASA from everyone’s grip.

Jeff Bezos stands next to the Blue Moon, a lunar lander offered by Blue Origin

(Image credit: Blue Origin)

But not everyone is happy with these developments

One of the main stories of this modern era of spaceflight is that SpaceX stood out for exactly the same reason, while being a typical tech company. The tech industry is generally passionate about the “chaos” industry, which it perceives as calcified and inefficient. In most cases, the success of a business is tied to the hype, labor arbitrage, and smart tax tricks, not to mention the absence of the worst regulations. (And the most informative), practical.

Elon Musk can be a divisive person for many, including myself. Don’t even try to get started with Tess Labot. However, it is undeniable that Mask and SpaceX made a complete orbit around the American military-industrial complex that they passed. Decades of dealing with US government contracts in the post-Apollo era without showing significant returns on those investments.

SpaceX has consistently outperformed companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing that are not used to bidding low to sign contracts, and those companies are starting to slash their bottom line dramatically.

Much of the coverage of Jess Bezos and Blue Origin’s proceedings against NASA regarding the award of the Artemis moon lander to SpaceX naturally centers on Jeff Bezos, but Blue Origin is not yet in orbit. Hmm. Land.

To strengthen its offering, Blue Origin has partnered with Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to demonstrate that they have the technical capabilities to implement the proposal. Assuming NASA has placed two bids and SpaceX is likely to win one, Blue Origin submitted nearly $ 6 billion in bids compared to SpaceX’s $ 2.9 billion.

It’s no wonder SpaceX continues to win the deal after the deal, while historical players like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin continue to find themselves in the cold. But if the billions of dollars NASA saved thanks to SpaceX can bring Artemis closer to the moon, luckily the system works like everyone else says.

NASA aims to bid on 12 private space stations, which could save $ 1 billion per year.

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