As the International Space Station ages, NASA has decided to rely on private companies to build new space stations. These will help the US space agency to continue to serve humanity, among others …
NASA recently awarded three funding contracts worth a total of $ 415.6 million to three private companies. The US space agency revealed the information last Thursday through a press release posted on its official website.
The price of diversity
The three companies chosen are Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder and second richest man in the world Jeff Bezos, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman. They are expected to receive $ 130 million, $ 160 million, and $ 125.6 million, respectively, as soon as NASA gets the green light from Congress. These firms were selected from among a dozen firms that responded to the call for tenders relating to the project.
In detail, the three elected officials will build private space stations which will serve as a base for NASA for this work. “We are partnering with American companies to develop space destinations that people can visit, where they can live and work, allowing NASA to continue to chart a path in space for the good of mankind, while now a commercial activity ” said Bill Nelson, head of the institution. For his part, Phil McAlister, director of commercial flights for NASA, says that a diverse collaboration will make the agency’s commercial destinations policy more robust, in addition to “Guarantee healthy competition in the future”.
Regarding the recently signed agreements, the official said that NASA plans to fund private space stations to the tune of about 40%, against 60%, or more, supported by companies. In return, he adds, the latter will be able to rent the stations to other actors, private and public.
The good of humanity okay, but savings first
As a reminder, the International Space Station (ISS) should officially cease its technical activities in 2024 (an extendable limit to 2028, or even 2030, according to optimistic projections from NASA). Indeed, according to McAlister, in addition to allowing the agency to find a substitute for the ISS, private stations could help it save more than a billion dollars a year. According to the official, the agency spends around $ 4 billion a year to maintain the platform.
With its savings, NASA will be able to devote its resources to its Artemis project which aims to install human colonies on the moon and Mars. Earlier this year, the US space agency, still in line with this goal, entrusted SpaceX and Boeing with the task of building new spacecraft, as part of its Commercial Crew program – a program that could save 20 to $ 30 billion to NASA.