Popular Science is featuring the commercial spaceflight industry as its January 2010 cover story, in an article titled “The New Space Rush.” “By the measure of private investment,” says Popular Science, “there is clearly more market optimism than ever before about private industry’s ability to do the job [of Low Earth Orbit transportation], for both passengers and payloads.” Click here to read the full Popular Science article online.
Article author Sam Verhovek emphasizes the partnership between NASA and the private sector. He writes that commercial spaceflight providers can “handle comparatively short-range tasks while NASA focuses on the farther reaches of space.” The commercial spaceflight sector strongly supports NASA’s mission of exploration, and believes that NASA and commercial activities are complementary, not competitive. Commercial spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit will help enable NASA to focus its resources on the worthwhile endeavor of exploration beyond Earth orbit. Reducing the U.S. reliance on Russia to launch American astronauts, supporting full utilization of the Space Station, opening the space frontier to more individuals, and helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers are among the other key aspects of this growing industry.
Bretton Alexander, the President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, is quoted in the Popular Science article saying, “The rationale here is that NASA needs to do the hard stuff and leave the simpler stuff—granted, human spaceflight is not an easy thing, but it is something we’ve been doing for 50 years—if it wants to go beyond. NASA can actually focus on doing the cool stuff [beyond Low Earth Orbit] and over the long term, you have an industry that is not only focused on NASA. NASA becomes a user, not the sole provider.”
Image credit: Popular Science