December 2005/January 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 8 
Industry Wrap

NASA eyes bigger space role for private sector

NASA's top official wants the private sector to play a greater role in plans to send astronauts to the moon and Mars.

"The exploration of the solar system cannot be what we want it to be as an enterprise borne solely by the American taxpayer, or even by the taxpayers of the other nations that will join with us," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin at the American Astronautical Society's annual meeting, which took place last month in League City, Texas. "If we are to make the expansion and development of the space frontier an integral part of what humans do, then these activities must assume an economic dimension as well."

The opportunity for businesses to get involved in space exploration could come with the International Space Station. According to an Associated Press report, Griffin said the ISS provides an opportunity to promote "commercial space ventures that will help us meet our exploration objectives and at the same time create new jobs and new industry."

According to several news reports, Griffin said he would like to see the private sector take over missions to the ISS once NASA's Space Shuttle fleet is retired in 2010. In such an instance, a commercial firm—and not NASA—would prepare and launch the rocket.

"We believe that when we engage the engine of competition, these [launch] services will be provided in a more cost-effective fashion than when the government has to do it," Griffin said in the AP report.


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