Back in the day when our partners were growing up, they saw NASA as this mythical entity that hired the smartest minds from the best schools, the ones who loved math and science, the ones who thought Wall Street was a place for flashy, money hungry fools. We must keep in mind that on Wall Street, when a great hire is made for a bank in trading, the one who has advanced math skills, he or she is called A Rocket Scientist.
But over the past 15 years, NASA has fallen into a black hole as many of its top projects, including the Space Shuttle, have been shut down or in the very least, downsized. At one point the US was asking other nations to launch their satellites into orbit, before going to old 1960s and 70s technology to do it themselves.
At one point the US government some of its old rocket engine technology to a young engineer who reworked it and sold it back to NASA for a 1 billion dollar profit. This is how they found the new thought leader, Elon Musk.
In an article on CNBC, 12 March, the NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that they had plans to “increase the use of commercial partnerships” to accelerate White House plans. As a result, Space X will be a big winner in allocations and resources. In short, the government is increasing its payouts to private contractors.
What is interesting about the recent meetings with NASA is that one can see, The Rocket Scientists, sitting at a table, listening to Elon Musk talk about his vision. Space X and Orbital Sciences (now a part of Northrop Grumman), successfully developed a new spacecraft for NASA to send cargo to the ISS, or International Space Station.
For now, the private firms are just working on the cargo business, but the door is open (by NASA and the White House) for development of commercial rockets by these two private thought leaders. Musk and Bezos are now designing quality products which are saving NASA billions as they compete for projects. More on this topic in the coming weeks.