Rockets and profits: How corporations will make us a permanent

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NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), its next generation rocket, is having an ignition trouble, and the issue is money. Concerns over the cost of SLS show the importance of letting for-profit companies lead the way to the final frontier.“The new development baseline cost for SLS is $9.1 billion, and the commitment for the initial ground systems capability to support the mission is now $2.4 billion,” Kathy Lueders, head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, recently announced. Commenters immediately noticed these estimates are 33 percent higher than the 2017 figures. The increase was significant enough that NASA had to give official notice to Congress. SLS is intended to get humans back to the moon, to Mars and beyond. Cost overruns are not unexpected with public sector programs, especially ones that push the bounds of the possible. And corporations are heavily involved with SLS, too. Yet it’s hard not to make a comparison to how companies like SpaceX solve these problems, when given enough latitude. The results are promising: years of falling launch costs.ADVERTISEMENTFrom 1970 to 2000, the price of accessing space remained nearly constant. Escaping Earth’s gravity well cost about $18,500 per kilogram. But led by SpaceX, the private sector has significantly driven …

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