The Elusive Silver Bullet Of Human Spaceflight

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Over at The Space Review is an interesting article The Space Review: Looking for a silver bullet that compares the dreams and rhetoric of those in the White House and NASA who foresee a new era of commercial spaceflight to the realities of both history and how the Obama Administration’s proposed plans for NASA may merely be a repeat of Total System Performance Responsibility. To discover why seeing the initials TSPR should cause you to shudder, read on. 

“The premise is that NASA will buy rides on commercially offered spacecraft, and move toward a paradigm closer to buying tickets on an airline to space, rather than acting as an entity that builds an airliner every time it wants to fly.

This sounds like a great idea. It seems logical that private industry, free of the bureaucracy and inefficiency of government, could develop spacecraft more cheaply, faster, and for less risk than an ‘in-house’ NASA spacecraft and then offer use of these spacecraft to the government at lower cost than present human launch services. This would be phenomenal for the space industry.

But it’s just not that simple. This is not a new idea. The Obama Administration is not the first to suggest the idea of circumventing the government acquisition system by contracting directly with private industry. And the problem is, when variants of this idea have been tried in the past, not only did they not work, but they turned out to be unmitigated disasters.”

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