NASA is committed to putting a man on the Martian atmosphere. Recent announcements from ESA, China and Elon Musk’s SpaceX are bringing out doubts. Analysts are predicting that NASA’s ambitions would need a budget of $100 billion to $1 trillion. The agency’s budget for 2016 is just $19.3 billion.
Is the Martian Price Tag Too Big?
There’s very low chances that NASA will get to Mars on their own. The majority of the space exploration community would agree that an international collaboration would increase the chances of success significantly. If not, NASA risks having another Apollo-like run on their hands.
ESA, China and Russia Have Eyes Set on the Moon
ESA and NASA have no problem forming an alliance, but the difference in their interests is halting the process. The European Space Agency is now joining Roscosmos and CNAS in efforts to build a colony on the moon for future human inhabitants.
However, that doesn’t mean that this is their only goal. The ESA actually covered $470 million of the expenses to build a space capsule for NASA’s Orion mission. The Airbus Group is building this initial module, which will serve as a stepping stone in getting men to Mars.
Roscosmos and the Chinese National Space Program are fully capable of helping to carry out a Mars mission. However, Russia’s declining economy is forcing it to reduce spending on space efforts. China and the United States have struggled to form successful partnerships for security reasons. In fact, China has been barred from the ISS since 2011. Since that date, the United States has been banned from collaborating with China on any space-related programs.
NASA Needs International and Private Partners
In addition to forming partnerships with international space agencies, NASA also greatly benefits from private sector collaborations. The most relevant to date are Boeing, Airbus, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. These two organizations are currently one of a handful in charge of commercializing space travel. Investment from these organizations help NASA out significantly. Reaching out to more relevant and interested parties will benefit the agency.
Getting aid from foreign governments is a harder but beneficial bet. But engaging the private sector is probably safer. Global companies are coming to terms with the real cost of space travel is. Now, some companies have even designed cheaper ways to do it.
SpaceX and Blue Origin Are NASA’s Best Allies
2015 hosted a safe launch and landing of reusable rockets by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Blue Origin. These events prove that space travel doesn’t need to be expensive. It also brought NASA a recipe on how to make their resources reusable. The space agency has been looking for a greener option for using resources for 30 years. The private sector managed it pretty quickly.
NASA has a lot of work to do to if they really want to get the kind of budget to put men on Mars. Until then, it will greatly benefit from domestic and international partnerships. It’s going to be a slow run until we reach the Red Planet.