NASA turns to the private sector as China flexes new space muscles
“Itâ€™s tempting to look at the situation â€” especially in the context of global economic conditions â€” and paint a picture of NASA in decline before an ascendant China. To do so, however, would be to neglect an important shift â€“- NASAâ€™s new reliance on a growing private sector.
“Private spaceflight is booming. Just look at the Ansari X PRIZE winning flights of SpaceShipOne, the subsequent rollout of Virgin Galacticâ€™s SpaceShipTwo system, and the initial flight of Falcon 1, a commercial orbital launch vehicle funded by PayPal founder Elon Musk. You might think, hey, isnâ€™t Virgin a UK effort? Itâ€™s actually headquartered in the U.S., with the technology being designed, the vehicles manufactured, and the launch taking place all within domestic borders. And the trend looks to continue with the popularization of programs like Googleâ€™s Lunar X PRIZE, which promises to do for robotic exploration what the Ansari X PRIZE did for human spaceflight.”