NASA announced this week that about 12 private space companies have submitted proposals to build a privately operated space station in low Earth orbit. space exploration.
The news also comes as NASA announced that it will reorganize its Bureau of Human Exploration and 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 NASA associate administrator.
Kathy Leeds, who now heads the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Bureau, will operate a second new station called Space Operations (SO). stations, orbital flights, missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
Thanks to courtesy of CNBC, the news about the transition to the private space station comes from a recent news report that highlights the aging of the International Space Station (ISS). The station suffered a catastrophic anomaly due to surface cracks extending to the surface of at least one module, misfire of the docked Russian module’s thruster, and a drop in air pressure in the occupancy section of the station’s crew was reported . There has been and shows a possible air leak.
The station has been in continuous use since 2000, and 21 years has been a long time for the destruction of the space vacuum. The ISS will continue to operate until 2024 and may extend its mission to 2028, but the Russian Federation has shown that it will not survive after 2024, and the ISS is not surprising. Service will be terminated.
The operation of the ISS costs NASA about $ 4 billion annually. That’s a fair amount, given that we’re moving forward on the Artemis lunar landing mission, which is set to return humanity to the Moon in early 2025.
NASA’s restructuring isn’t surprising given its new focus beyond Earth orbit. At City Hall, where NASA staff announced the split of the two stations, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that whatever NASA’s interesting plans, Artemis’ mission should take precedence over anything else. Rice field.
“That’s our focus and that’s our responsibility. There are many new technologies to be developed for the Moon and Mars, and we need to foster an international partnership with us.”
Nelson also sees it as deprecating or pushing Luder, which over the years has led to NASA’s successful partnerships with private companies such as SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program . He insisted that this should not happen.
Instead, it is a recognition that as NASA’s ambitions expand, the organization’s structure should evolve accordingly. Nelson said the responsibility of managing orbital flight, space stations, and current Artemis missions was simply “huge. You can’t do it all by yourself.”
The main focus of the ESD Directorate is to develop the kind of technology NASA needs to safely send astronauts to the Moon and return to Earth safely, including the first women and the first colored races. A Gateway space station in orbit around the Moon helps to facilitate the construction of permanent settlements on its surface.
SpaceX allows NASA to go higher and further
You can’t escape the fact that it wouldn’t happen without SpaceX. Currently some major private space companies are working in partnership with NASA to bring supplies to the ISS and put payloads into orbit, but almost all of them have been rebuilt or rebuilt by Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, etc. . It is a joint venture. companies.
All of them have been working with the US government since the 1960s and enjoying a steady stream of lucrative contracts for decades, but the inevitable bloat is beginning to emerge, legacy military and aerospace. This is a contractor.
Both Boeing and SpaceX have won contracts for crew capsules to fly astronauts to the ISS from American soil, eliminating the need for NASA to rely on Russian Soyuz rockets and pay for transit. Rice field. The competition should be closer to see which company can first bring crew capsules into space, dock them to the ISS using unmanned spacecraft, and eventually fly astronauts to the ISS. Is. It turns out it was not.
Boeing suffered a mind-boggling return when a Starliner crew capsule suffered a thruster anomaly during a mission on an unmanned spacecraft that failed to dock with the ISS in December 2019. Since that mission, Boeing has been unable to return the Starliner to space, and in early August an “unexpected valve position” returned the Starliner to the hangar, eliminating hopes of another launch attempt before 2022. Gave. Another launch failure occurred sometime on the launch pad. .
Meanwhile, SpaceX not only spent years transporting cargo to the ISS and safely carrying 10 astronauts to the station, but last week’s successful Inspiration 4 mission was full of civilian crew and SpaceX as a whole. Fully powered by.
It may be a coincidence that NASA is making these announcements and changes, but SpaceX, which last week successfully crossed the threshold of commercialization of LEO without government support, has the engineering sophistication and space. It tells a story of operational experience. Space operations have reached a level of maturity that frees NASA from holding everyone’s hand.
But not everyone is happy with these developments
One of the main stories of this modern day in spaceflight is that SpaceX stands out for being a distinctly tech company, as well for exactly that reason. The tech industry generally yearns for an “anarchy” industry, which it sees as quiet and incompetent. In most cases, a company’s success is related to publicity, labor arbitration, and clever tax gimmicks, not to mention the absence of the worst rules. (and most of all informative), practice.
Elon Musk can be a divisive figure to many, including me. Don’t even try to start with Tess Labott. However, it cannot be denied that Mask and SpaceX have made a full orbit around the US military-industrial complex that they expended. Decades of milking 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, which are not accustomed to bidding low prices to sign contracts, and these companies are beginning to shrink their bottom line significantly.
Much of the coverage of Jess Bezos and Blue Origin’s proceedings against NASA over SpaceX delivering Artemis’s lunar lander naturally focused on Jeff Bezos, but Blue Origin isn’t in orbit yet. Hmm. Land on the Moon.
To strengthen its bid, Blue Origin has partnered with Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to demonstrate that they have the technical capabilities to implement the proposal. Under the assumption that NASA has made two bids and SpaceX is likely to win one of them, Blue Origin has submitted bids worth about $6 billion against SpaceX’s $2.9 billion.
It’s no surprise that SpaceX continues to win deal after deal, while legacy players like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin find themselves in the cold. But if NASA saves billions of dollars thanks to SpaceX can bring Artemis closer to the Moon, luckily the system is working as everyone says.
NASA aims to bid on 12 private space stations, which could result in savings of $1 billion annually.
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