President Trump’s new budget includes a significant boost for NASA funding as the newly created Space Force needs money to get humans on the moon by 2024. The request for NASA funding, contingent on approval from Congress, “would top out at more than $25 billion, with almost $3 billion to develop the vehicles necessary to get astronauts to and from the lunar surface as part of NASA’s ‘Artemis’ program,” the Washington Post confirms.
Part of the NASA’s funding increase includes industry-government partnerships which means American tax dollars will be going to large corporations to help NASA achieve its space goals. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are some familiar faces in the mix for such government contracts:
billionaire entrepreneurs including Elon Musk, head of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., and Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, who runs the fast-growing space startup Blue Origin LLC, are stepping up moves to garner federal funds for human exploration using their rockets, capsules and potentially landers.
And you can add the scandal-plagued Boeing into the mix.
Wherever there are big dollar government contracts, there are corporations maneuvering to get an edge to pocket that hot government cash money. “Struggling mega-corporation Boeing is stealthily trying to use the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as its own personal piggy-bank while leaving taxpayers in the lurch by getting lawmakers to craft legislation giving Boeing an unfair advantage in future missions,” writes Ross Marchand at Townhall.
It’s good to have businesses bid on government contracts to ensure taxpayers are getting the best deal for their spacecrafts, that’s theoretically the reason we have a bidding process. But Boeing is throwing around it’s heft in the House of Representatives in order to finesse their contracting competitors right out of this process. The Democrat-controlled House released an authorization act a few weeks ago, H.R. 5666, which, according to Ars Technica, would
shut down all potential competition and cost savings for the lunar lander. It is particularly telling that there is only one company—Boeing—that has proposed building an integrated lunar lander, has the contract for the Exploration Upper Stage, and is building core stages for the Space Launch System rocket.
The House bill redirects Trump’s stated goal of Space Force going to the moon and instead directs our space efforts toward Mars and sets up Boeing as the inevitable recipient of government space money. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation released a statement about the House authorization and said: “As written, the NASA Authorization bill would not create a sustainable space exploration architecture and would instead set NASA up for failure by eliminating commercial participation and competition in key programs. As NASA and the White House have repeatedly stated, any sustainable space exploration effort must bring together the best of government and commercial industry to achieve a safe and affordable 21st century space enterprise.”
Despite the House’s move toward Mars and Boeing, the White House will release its budget today with a focus on returning to the moon and a 5-year funding request for the Artemis Program.
Stand-by for lift off.