Outsourcing Space

A federal aerospace panel has warned that NASA could face serious safety issues if it carries out plans to rely on private companies to send its astronauts into space in the future.

A federal aerospace panel has warned that NASA could face serious safety issues if it carries out plans to rely on private companies to send its astronauts into space in the future. "The Obama administration has been devising a plan to outsource a chunk of its manned space program to private companies in order to speed up rocket development, save money and focus federal dollars on longer-term expeditions. But a report released last week by the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, an outside safety watchdog for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, cautioned that the private space companies rely on ‘unsubstantiated claims’ about safety and need to overcome major technical hurdles before they can safely carry astronauts into orbit. The report urged NASA to stick with its current government-run manned space ventures, and said that switching to private alternatives now would be ‘unwise and probably not cost-effective.’ The safety panel's recommendation could force the Obama administration to rethink how far and how fast it wants to go in embracing commercial options."

Related Articles

Human skeletal stem cells isolated in breakthrough discovery

It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.

Image: Nissim Benvenisty
Surprising Science
  • Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
  • These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
  • The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Keep reading Show less

How exercise helps your gut bacteria

Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.

National Institutes of Health
Surprising Science
  • Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
  • Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
  • Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
Keep reading Show less

Giving octopuses ecstasy reveals surprising link to humans

A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.

Image: damn_unique via Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
  • Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
  • Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
Keep reading Show less