NASA’s New Rocket Is Huge but so Is Its Budget

    Fred Lucas


    Astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, is shown in this handout photo provided by NASA as he participates in the second of two spacewalks which took place on December 24, 2013, released on December 27, 2013. The scheduled spacewalks were designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. He was joined on both spacewalks by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, whose image shows up in Hopkins' helmet visor. REUTERS/NASA/H

    After eight years of neglect from the Obama administration, Trump hopes to revitalize NASA’s focus on space flight.

    President Donald Trump isn’t a fan of projects that come in behind schedule or over budget—which is often business as usual for government. But that could be what he is getting from the space program.

    After eight years of neglect from the Obama administration, Trump hopes to revitalize NASA’s focus on space flight rather than climate research. He has also remarked how much the private sector is ready to invest and compared the two.

    In a video conference last year with two astronauts aboard the International Space Station, Trump talked about his affinity for private investment.

    “I have many friends that are so excited about space,” Trump said. “They want to get involved in space from the standpoint of entrepreneurship and business.”

    In March of this year, Trump talked about space exploration again during a cabinet meeting. With model rockets on the table before him, the president referenced the successful SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch from February.

    “I noticed the prices of the last one they say cost $ 80 million,” Trump said. “If the government did it, the same thing would have cost probably forty or fifty times that amount of money. I mean literally. When I heard $ 80 million, I’m so used to hearing different numbers with NASA.”

    Trump is known to shoot from the hip. But even before his comment, the USA Today editorial board had already noted in February how government fails on the space front. The editorial board also pointed out that in contrast, Elon Musk’s SpaceX “has a family of rockets that could slash the cost of satellite launches and then, or so Musk says, go on to support a rigorous human space program.” The editorial says, “NASA should get out of the rocket business entirely and let the private sector go to work.”

    However, NASA officials could be envisioning a different direction.

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