Sun, Apr 01, 2012
Musk: "Commercial Space Will Be The Only Space"
ANN April 1st Special Edition
SpaceX founder Elon Musk (shown below, with friends, in Zero-G) announced April 1st that a consortium of commercial space companies have closed a deal with the federal government for the outright purchase of NASA.
The consortium is led by SpaceX and ULA, which both have operational boosters that are nearly ready to begin carrying humans into orbit. "The Obama administration was thrilled to be shed of the agency, which it saw as nothing more than a cost center," Musk said. "Between the ULA Atlas boosters which are very reliable, and with Falcon 9 nearly ready to begin operations, we just saw this as the right deal at the right time. In very short order, commercial space will be the only space."
Other consortium members include Virgin Galactic, which will become the suborbital research arm of the new CASA ... the Commercial Aeronautics and Space Association. Sierra Nevada Corp and XCOR will be combining their talents to produce the NextGen Space Shuttle to ferry astronauts back and forth between the ISS. "Relying on Russia to carry astronauts to ISS using 40-year-old Soyuz technology is just unacceptable," said Sierra Nevada Corp. CEO Faith Ozeman. "We know we can get people to ISS more efficiently, and since we now own the company, we know that we can accelerate the process of getting human-rated spacecraft flying in very short order. We expect to be flying to ISS in just a couple of years.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it does include launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center, as well as mission control in Houston and numerous assembly and support facilities nationwide. An Obama administration official not authorized to talk to the media told ANN that the President had been looking for a way out of the space business, and jumped at the chance to turn it over to a private company. President Obama issued a statement saying that the sale fell directly in line with his goals of reducing both government spending and the deficit. "I have long been a proponent of the commercialization of space," Obama said in the statement. "We need to let private industry do what they do best; innovate."
Musk said that revenues from the spinoffs of space research will go a long way towards funding the operations of the new company. "NASA never really knew what it had with the spinoffs. Now, we can capitalize on those billions in revenue and make space affordable," he said.
Fearful of being shut out of the space industry, Boeing announced that it was purchasing the ESA to directly compete with the new venture. EADS Astrium said it was in talks with the Chinese government for the purchase of its space agency.
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