Private companies are restricted to the launch and operation of spacecrafts in orbit – anything development of satellites or tech is believed to be too risky.
New Zealand Herald 2010 (The New Zealand Herald, US to encourage private firms to run space trips, February 2, 2010, Lexis, znf)
The Obama Administration is proposing in its new Budget spending billions of dollars to encourage private companies to build, launch and operate spacecraft for Nasa and others. Getting astronauts into orbit, which the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been doing for 49 years, is so old hat that someone other than the Government can do it, it seems. Going private would free the space agency to do other things, such as explore beyond Earth's orbit, do more research and study the Earth with better satellites. And it would spur a new generation of private companies - even some with internet roots - to innovate. But there's some concern about that - from former Nasa officials worried about safety and congressional leaders worried about lost jobs. Some believe space is still a tough, dangerous enterprise not to be left to private companies out to make money. Government would lose vital knowledge and control, critics fear. Proponents of private space, an idea that has been kicking around for nearly 20 years, point to the airline industry in its infancy. Initially the Army flew most planes. But private companies eventually started building and operating aircraft, especially when they got a guaranteed customer in the US Government to deliver air mail. That's what Nasa would be: a guaranteed customer to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station until 2020. It would be similar to the few years Nasa paid Russia to fly astronauts on its Soyuz after the Columbia accident in 2003. "With a US$6 billion [$8.43 billion] programme you can have multiple winners," said John Gedmark, executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. The White House has said it will add US$5.9 billion to the overall Nasa budget over five years; Mr Gedmark believes most or all will go to commercial space initiatives. Mike Gold, corporate counsel at Bigelow Aerospace, which is building the first commercial space station and is a potential spacecraft provider, believes the Government should have privatised astronaut launchings decades ago. "It will force the aerospace world to become competitive again and restore us to our glory days." Last year as part of the stimulus package, Nasa said it would give out US$50 million in seed and planning money for the idea of a commercial spaceship. Several firms expressed interest and Nasa will soon pick a winner or winners. American University public policy professor and space expert Howard McCurdy said this was not as radical as it seemed. The shuttle was built not by Government workers but by Rockwell International, a private company. In 1996 the Clinton Administration outsourced some shuttle operations to a private company. "This is something that Nasa has been drifting towards in the last 25 years," Mr McCurdy said. But New York University professor Paul Light said: "My general caution is be careful about what you give away. It's awful expensive to get it back." - AP
Plan popular – Obama pushing budget increase now, no trade-off with space exploration
Lawler and Reardon 11 (Andrew Lawler and Sara Reardon on 14 February 2011, 5:11 PM, Climate Science, Asteroid Detection Big Winners in NASA Budget; Accessed 6/30/2011, AH)
NASA will have to live with a stagnant budget—again. The $18.7 billion proposed by the Administration is the same amount as 2010 and 2011, and science funding would continue to hover at about $5 billion. But in the details are significant winners and losers. Earth science would grow from $1.439 billion to $1.797 billion in 2012, though House of Representatives Republicans are sure to attack a program focused on understanding global change. Meanwhile, Mars exploration—which this year stands at $438 million—would spike at $602 million next year, but plummet to less than half that amount by 2016. Funds for near-Earth object observations would quadruple to $20.4 million. And NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson said the agency will kill a dark-energy mission in the hope that it can collaborate more cheaply with the European Space Agency. She added that details on how the agency will fund a massive cost overrun in the James Webb Space Telescope won't be ready until this summer. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden acknowledged that "tough choices had to be made," adding that these are "really difficult fiscal times." The priority in such times, he said, was safe and efficient transportation of crew and equipment into low earth orbit. The budget for human exploration was kept at $2.81 billion to fund development of a Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to carry humans and a Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle to launch it. An enhanced reliance on commercial industry to provide these vehicles for human spaceflight, Bolden said, was "the frugal thing for us to do and the prudent thing for us to do. … We can't do everything." Pressed on human landings on Mars and asteroids, Bolden said it was too early to give definitive dates. Perhaps Mars in the 2030s and asteroids by 2025, but "if we can do things better, some of those dates may accelerate. We're going to have to make small steps."
Plan popular – Will pass once Obama and Congress reach deals on deficit and debt ceiling
With a lingering stalemate on the deficit and debt ceiling and leftover problems from the previous fiscal year, developing a budget to fund NASA for the coming fiscal year is messier than usual. “It’s a quagmire,” says Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Commerce Justice Science subcommittee. “It’s a fiscal quagmire.” The committee is still sorting through the fiscal 2011 budget, as NASA only just recently submitted its spending plan for fiscal 2011 to Congress. “Right at this moment, we are looking at the consequences of the [continuing resolution],” Mikulski says. On top of that, Congress and the White House have yet to reach a deal on how to address the deficit and the debt ceiling. Without that deal, the Senate Budget Committee has not provided a budget resolution. And without a budget resolution, the appropriations committees have no guidance concerning how much money individual agencies will receive in fiscal 2012. The military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee moved ahead with its spending bill June 28, but other subcommittees are still waiting. “Until we get what our allocation is going to be we can’t quite mark up our bill,” Mikulski says. In the meantime, the appropriations committees dealing with NASA are working with the agency to obtain additional information. The big question, however, remains what will happen with the heavy-lift space launch system (SLS), the details of which Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Science Committee, has been pushing to receive (Aerospace DAILY, June 24). Despite the slowdown in the Senate, the House Appropriations process has been humming along; the Commerce Justice Science subcommittee is still scheduled to mark up its version of the spending bill July 7 — a deadline that will come with or without NASA’s input on SLS.