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Privatization of Human Space Flight Report

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Updated: Mar 14th, 2022

Human Space Flight

The term ‘spaceflight’ refers to the use of space technology to facilitate the flight of spacecraft into and through outer space. When spaceflight carries human passengers, generally non-technical individuasl related to space science, it is termed human spaceflight. “This distinguishes it from robotic space probes or remotely-controlled satellites” (Belfiore 86).

Human spaceflight is often called “manned spaceflight” although the usage of the term is disapproved by major space agencies. “Presently, NASA and ESA use the term “human spaceflight” to refer to their programs of launching humans into space. The only three countries to possess independent human spaceflight capability are the Soviet Union/Russia, United States and China” (Connors 183-212).

Privatization of Human Spaceflight

On February 1st, 2010, US President Barack Obama proposed that NASA be exempted from the business of launching astronauts into space” (Lane 3-6). This proposal was based on the findings of the 2009 Augustine Commission, a group entrusted with the job of reviewing human spaceflight plans of the US (Lane 3-6).

The Commission studied the 9-year-old Constellation Program, the human spaceflight program within NASA and found it to be totally inadequate to render possible the realization of any goals of human space exploration. Consequently, the President proposed the termination of the Constellation Program thus paving the way for privatization of the human spaceflight (Harris 207-227).

Concept of Privatization of Human Spaceflight

Privatization, in this context, signifies a considerable departure from the way NASA has handled the programs of launching astronauts into space. It signifies the development of newer opportunities for increased involvement of private industries in human spaceflight (Solomon 88). “Moreover, it establishes the accountability of private industries for human spaceflight and enables future commercialization opportunities” (Lamb 211).

General Reaction to the Privatization of Human Spaceflight

The president’s vision of privatizing American space exploration has sparked off a serious controversy in the US space community. Many have raised concerns that this would put the United States on a slower track towards humans exploring the solar system (Bizony 114). According to many experts, the president’s plan fails to comply with the standards of sound space policy as it is based on ill-defined objectives and unsubstantiated assumptions (Zimmerman 1). For example, it has not been clearly explained where the space program’s shifted focus will lead the US and how is it going to affect its realization of pre-established goals in the field of space exploration (Eckberg 1129-1138).

To many, the fact that the administration is unable to explain the assumptions on the basis of which the proposed commercial crew delivery strategy is formulated appears even more disturbing. “Another major argument against privatization of human spaceflight is the lack of existing systems to provide commercial services” (Smith 543-559). Most of the critics, however, consider the looming US budget crisis as the major factor that has triggered the formation of Obama’s new space plan (Smith 543-559).

Summary

The space program motivates us to reach the stars both in our dreams and reality. It is the driving force behind innovations and provider of creative solutions to technological challenges” (Lamb 286). It goes without saying that the privatization of human spaceflight can prove to be extremely beneficial to the Government. However, the gradual erosion of NASA skills and technology is a major threat to the process. Effective implementation of privatization can thus be achieved through the necessary merger of NASA skills and experience within the private company (Lamb 286).

Works Cited

Belfiore, Michael. Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots is Boldly Privatizing Space. NY: Harper Paperbacks, 2008.

Bizony, Piers. How to Build Your Own Spaceship: The Science of Personal Space Travel. Boston: Plume, 2009.

Connors, Mary M. Crew systems: Integrating human and technical subsystems for the exploration of space. Behavioral Science, 39.3, (2009): 183-212.

Eckberg, Dwain L. Human mechanisms in space. The Journal of Physiology, 588.7, (2010): 1129-1138.

Harris, Philip R. Behavioral science space contributions. Behavioral Science, 38.3, (2008): 207-227.

Lamb, David. Private Space: Future Market? Auckland: IPCL Press, 2010.

Lane, Helen W. Nutrition in Space: Evidence from the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Nutrition Reviews, 50.1, (2010): 3-6.

Smith, Denis. On a wing and a prayer? Exploring the human components of technological failure. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 17.4, (2010): 543-559.

Solomon, Lewis D. The privatization of space exploration: business, technology, law and policy. NY: Transaction Publishers, 2008.

Zimmerman, Allen. “Changing Trajectory: French Firms Vaults Ahead in Civilian Rocket Market”. The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.): A1. 2007.

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