Why would NASA outsource missions to SpaceX?
When it comes new PR disasters, NASA isn't taking any risks.
PETER WARD: One of the greatest criticisms leveled at NASA is that they don't take enough risk, and that's for good reason. You've seen that they have had tragedies in their past. They had the Challenger disaster. They've had two tragedies in the shuttle program alone. And we saw whole crews die in those. And that makes you nervous. That's bad for PR. That's bad for a government. That's bad for a president. If you see these national heroes who are supposed to be going into space to further the species and get glory for the country and they don't come back, that aside from being a terrible, terrible thing is also extremely bad PR and it did affect NASA a lot.
And what we've seen now is NASA has shifted some of that risk. NASA's role has changed. Back then they would be a contractor and they would tell companies to build them a specific part of a rocket. But they would do the whole mission themselves. Now we see NASA is more of a client so it's shifted the responsibility and the risk to SpaceX. SpaceX is basically selling NASA a ride to the international space station. So if something were to go wrong and thankfully as the years go on it's less likely that something will go wrong, NASA doesn't have as much of that risk. It doesn't have as much responsibility I guess. It will come under fire for hiring SpaceX but ultimately anything bad that would happen would be on SpaceX's shoulders.
So you've seen NASA has switched, has taken the risk and put it onto the private companies. And the private companies are much better equipped to deal with that risk. They don't have to elect their CEO every four years, for example. They don't have to answer to a whole country and they can go ahead and do things that other people couldn't. And you've seen it in America in the past actually. You saw the railroad expansion. America used private companies to do that. It wasn't the government. They gave them huge amounts of land and said go and build us a railroad system and there are actually a lot of similarities between those two scenarios. A lot of people see Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin as the railroad companies who are being tasked with connecting us with another frontier essentially.
- 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.
The Consequential Frontier: Challenging the Privatization of Space
- See remarkable NASA photos of a new volcano eruption - Big Think ›
- NASA releases stunning image of ISS crossing in front of the sun ... ›
- NASA uncovers a 19-year-fraud that caused failed missions - Big ... ›
"It's just a joke," right?
Q: Why did the woman cross the road?
A: Who cares! What the hell is she doing out of the kitchen?
Q: Why hasn't NASA sent a woman to the moon?
A: It doesn't need cleaning yet!
These two jokes represent disparagement humor – any attempt to amuse through the denigration of a social group or its representatives.
Just hearing two languages helps babies develop cognitive skills before they even speak. Here's how - and how you can help them develop those skills.
A new study shows that babies raised in bilingual environments develop core cognitive skills like decision-making and problem-solving -- before they even speak.
Paying a fee for greenhouse gas emissions may spur a revolution, in terms of corporate behavior, amid the climate crisis.
- When it comes to politically addressing the climate crisis, we need politicians from both sides of the aisle to work together to create policies that bring about a more sustainable tomorrow.
- If we enact policies that require companies to pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, we would see an immediate change of behavior from them, in regard to how much they contribute to climate change.
- There's growing agreement that the climate crisis is real among both Republicans and Democrats. The main concern, however, among those who are still critical of its significance is whether it will limit people's choices or slow the economy.