back to article NASA sees our space future as both government and privately run

"There is no SpaceX without NASA," Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator at the US space agency's Science Mission Directorate, told The Register this week as a Falcon 9 lurked in the background at Cape Canaveral. Zurbuchen was not being combative – SpaceX boss Elon Musk has acknowledged the mutual debt between the two …

  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Errm it always was

    The kit has always been built by Northrop, Lockheed, Boeing etc

    And more than 50% of NASA's budget is still spent on supporting US commercial aircraft manufacturing

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: Errm it always was

      Correct, but they were fulfilling orders not taking over, as is the intention is here. All that will happen ois that taxpayer funded NASA will subsidise the likes of Musk amd guaranteed big profits. It happened in the UK with the privatisation of infrastructure and utilities.

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    No monkeys on the moon yet

    Zurbuchen was not being combative ... probably because he's looking at the current world and has read Heinlein's "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress", giving him some concerns about how things will be going ...

    1. Daedalus

      Re: No monkeys on the moon yet

      He should read "The Man Who Sold the Moon" instead. I swear one day Elon will change his name to D. D. Harriman.

  3. CrackedNoggin

    "We do Artemis for three reasons," said Zurbuchen. "... and the third one is to show national and international leadership."

    Because China put that lander on the dark side, resulting in great embarrassment in the US. A very human response and non-destructive competitiveness can be a force for good - but IMO the implementation is wrong. The new frontier should be putting robots in space to do science and leveraging AI to make the most of them.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Curse you Roger Waters, Dave Gilmour et al, it's the "far" side not the "dark" side.

      On robots, NASA estimate that all the science done by all the Mars landers and rovers could have been done in under a week by an astronaut on Mars. Manned missions might actually be cheaper if you look at the total amount of science that can be done. (emphasis on "might").

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        I'm interested to read more about this, do you have a link handy?

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Not handy but consider this: Perseverance spent a day immobile while they freed a jammed drill bit, an astronaut wielding a drill would probably have freed it with a little twist in 30 seconds.

          1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

            Absolutely, but the costs and the risks are orders of magnitude greater once humans are involved, and it's the evaluation of those "orders of magnitude" that I'm very interested to understand better than I do (which isn't much).

            1. DJO Silver badge

              For Mars Buzz Aldrin had a third option, set up a base on one of the moons of Mars where they could operate robots with close to zero lag and not have to worry about getting humans in and out of the gravity well but still have humans close enough to prep specialised robots with the tools needed each time they think of something else to do.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        "There is no dark side of the moon really; as a matter of fact it's all dark."

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      The other reason for Artemis

      SLS is a self-licking ice cream cone vital to the jobs of politicians and aerospace executives. SpaceX has been eating the satellite launch lunch, commercial crew breakfast and is on the way to taking the deep space dinner. The Artemis program ensures every possible dollar goes to the right contractors before the public catches on. The only thing missing is funding for a second competitive lunar lander for double the cost, a tenth of the capacity and ten years late.

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      great embarrassment in the US

      I don't think anybody here actually knows the Chinese lander exists. They're too busy chanting "MAGA" and "DARK BRANDON"

      Besides, Constellation/SLS/Artemis/Apollo 2 started a decade ago.

  4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Slow EU decision making

    "We have had a team working on this, but our good European friends really need to take the time. European decision-making involves a lot of countries, and what we don't want to do is in any way affect that. It's really up to them."

    To be fair, it's not actually all that different in the USA. Every State wants a share of the pork work and that take time to sort out, politically :-)

    1. Vulch

      Re: Slow EU decision making

      Also, after the International Solar Polar Mission got chopped in half ESA got very cautious about being too involved in NASA projects that may get dropped at short notice.

  5. Lordrobot


    Muricans have used the Man on the Moon as the ultimate badge of blowhard for over fifty years. Recently CHINER has demonstrated prowess in landing a spacecraft on the opposite side of the moon, devised a system to mine the moon and having a space station using ion engines. When Trump got wind of this, his pea brain concluded that the US had to get to the moon again and then go to Mars. This is the way a clown ass thinks and why Trump presided over 6 bankruptcies. Trump prides himself as having never read a single book cover to cover. Fabulous. If Trump had read some science fiction, he may have grasped some of the simple physics which make giant ROCKET SHIPs obsolete.

    At 4.1 Billion USD a pop, not including the billions in development costs, this NASA rocket is an utter waste of resources and this mission is mindless. Three crash dummies are in the capsule. Not robots, not vehicles, not drones... DUMMIES IN SPACE... THE APEX of the TRUMP MIND... well other than injecting bleach in the lungs and tossing NUKES at hurricanes.

    To a great extent, the rest of the world has been excluded from this NASA scheme. It is now shaping up like NATO. The US is Broke and wants a contribution and for that, they will send your robot toys into orbit.

    CHINER has a different approach. In a very short period of time, they have their own space station which they keep expanding. They are using and testing ION engines on this space station. If you want to visit other planets, you are going to need ion engines. You are going to need a spacecraft assembled in earth's orbit that can travel to distant planets.

    The math is elementary. It costs a lot to get heavy things off the earth and into orbit. When you turn the Space Shuttle, and Rockets into the Good Ship Diversity Lollypop, they accomplish nothing. You need a commercial purpose to fund this. That is why the Chinese have devised a system of orbiters that send landers to the moon to gather rocks and then dispatch them to earth. A Space Station around the moon could accomplish this commercial work. The rocks could be sent to earth's orbit or to the earth's space station for processing back to earth. The spacecraft used to ferry astronauts to the space station could be used to ferry moon rock back to earth for sale on Alibaba.

    My point is there must be a commercial purpose to fund this. NASA wants to make all the decisions. So that once again means politicians, the intellectual bottom rung, calling the shots. No wonder Europe is not on board with this nonsense. Meanwhile, US math and science scores keep dropping.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: WHY GO? Are you insane... MURICAN BLOWHARD IS AT STAKE!

      But they did invent the terminal CAPS LOCK key

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: WHY GO? Are you insane... MURICAN BLOWHARD IS AT STAKE!

        Some people need access to the GREEN CRAYON key.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WHY GO? Are you insane... MURICAN BLOWHARD IS AT STAKE!

          Some people need dried frog pills.

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    We do what we do, because that's what we do

    > "We do Artemis for three reasons," said Zurbuchen. "There is, without a doubt, a reason to do science

    > … a second one is a reason to inspire,

    > and the third one is to show national and international leadership."

    So how's that all going?

    The H2 leaks which are plaguing Artemis and embarrassing NASA are lessons that were not learned when the same basic faults occurred with the Space Scuttle.

    As for inspiration, SpaceX seems to be winning at the moment and in the future with Musk's "My rocket's bigger than your rocket"

    It seems to me that all this leadership stuff is only going to inspire bureaucrats and administrators. People who can turn an 8-year project (Apollo) into a 17-year boondoggle (Constellation / Artemis) and still have nothing to show for it. Even though it was based on proven, if flawed, technology from 40 years earlier.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: We do what we do, because that's what we do

      Obviously actually launching a rocket to the moon is harder than filming it on a sound stage

  7. Daedalus

    Slight bias

    "NASA sees our space future as both government and privately run"

    Well they would, wouldn't they?

  8. Scene it all

    "The SLS was designed for the Americans' Artemis mission, which intends to put people back on the Moon some time this decade using private and government spacecraft."

    The article has this backwards. The Big Rocket people at NASA wanted to build a big rocket - they did not really care where it went. The Artemis project was designed to give SLS something to do, and it is *barely* able to do that, just like the International Space Station was designed to give the Shuttle something to do.

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