NASA has begun an interesting partnership with private commercial companies to make space exploration more affordable. Doctor Aviation is on vacation this week, but is watching the mission with interest.
From its beginnings in the late 1950s, NASA has done an exceptional job in exploring space. Starting with Mercury, and on through Gemini, Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, SkyLab, Viking, Voyager, the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, NASA expanded its scope and reach.
Once the Space Shuttle made its last flight in 2011, aviation watchers have asked “What’s next”? The answer seems to be partnerships with private industry in order to make space projects more affordable. The SpaceX mission is a partnership with high profile Elon Musk’s company. This is the same Elon Musk behind the Tesla electric car.
A Shuttle Launch cost as estimated $500 million and the cost of shipping a pound of cargo around $10,000. NASA hopes to cut these costs significantly through the venture with private enterprise. If private enterprise proves to do the job cheaper (and history tends to bear this out) then the partnership could prove to be a significant cost savings to the American taxpayer and allow the US to maintain its space dominance.
For a full take on the SpaceX Crew Dragon see this NASA site.