The United States and the Soviet Union were deeply embroiled in a space race. It was the U.S. vs. the U.S.S.R. when this military and aerospace (mil/aero) geek was a small, impressionable child (and a budding wannabe astronaut).
The value of the space program and funding to NASA were seldom, if ever, questioned in those days. It was a matter of pride, patriotic, inspiring, and so on. Putting people in space was a must. No question. In times of trying economies are tight budgets, however, as myriad aerospace geeks are well aware, monies allotted to NASA—especially those related to human spaceflight—are scrutinized.
Financial analysts currently estimate that it would cost in excess of $150 billion (U.S.) to finance the race to the Moon if we started today. To put that in perspective, the entire NASA budget proposed for 2014 is $16.6 billion. Clearly, NASA cannot do it alone—and NASA officials are smartly reaching out to industry.
This mil/aero geek is putting his faith squarely into the hands of the private sector for the next big boom in manned spaceflight—which he hopes to see in his lifetime. Several innovative companies are already actively filling in the gaps left by the retiring of the NASA Space Shuttle program. In fact, the Google Lunar X Prize is offering a cool $30 million dollars to the first privately funded team to land a robotic probe on the moon. Do more interesting prospects lie on the other moons in the solar system? Let’s find out!