Why would NASA outsource missions to SpaceX?

When it comes new PR disasters, NASA isn't taking any risks.

  • Tragedies at NASA, such as Challenger and Columbia disasters, have impeded the organization from taking risks, critics say. Indeed, in terms of PR, these tragedies were particularly baleful.
  • Although NASA was once a contractor, its staff spearheading missions, today they are more a client. SpaceX is basically selling NASA a ride to the ISS.
  • Essentially, NASA has put the risk on private companies — if anything bad happens, it's on SpaceX, for example. This switch may better further space colonization goals, though, because the private sector has more flexibility, in terms of how business is conducted. Also, NASA, as a national entity, avoids the pall of a possible disaster.
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Musk vs. Bezos: Whose philosophy will get him to space first?

The billionaires are both looking to the stars, but each has a different dream for space colonization.

  • The billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are driving the private space sector, however, they both have different motivations and goals for doing so.
  • For Musk, space colonization is a matter of saving the human species — having a Plan B. For Bezos, he believes Earth can be saved and transformed into a "residential only" zone. Goods from industrial manufacturing would be outsourced from space colonies.
  • One big concern regarding Bezos' plan is whether his company's presence in space would someday constitute a monopoly of extraterrestrial industry.
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Outer space capitalism: The legal and technical challenges facing the private space industry

The private sector may need the Outer Space Treaty to be updated before it can make any claims to celestial bodies or their resources.

  • The Outer Space Treaty, which was signed in 1967, is the basis of international space law. Its regulations set out what nations can and cannot do, in terms of colonization and enterprise in space.
  • One major stipulation of the treaty is that no nation can individually claim or colonize any part of the universe—when the US planted a flag on the Moon in 1969, it took great pains to ensure the world it was symbolic, not an act of claiming territory.
  • Essentially to do anything in space, as a private enterprise, you have to be able to make money. When it comes to asteroid mining, for instance, it would be "astronomically" expensive to set up such an industry. The only way to get around this would be if the resources being extracted were so rare you could sell them for a fortune on Earth.
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