NASA Administrator Bill Nelson Optimistic On Space Exploration As Commercial And Government Efforts Combine
With a rich career in service – both in politics and in the U.S. military – and experience as a NASA payload specialist, newly appointed Administrator Bill Nelson is in a unique position to lead.
During his first month in the role, he pushes what he says is one of the most ambitious and aggressive science budgets in the agency’s history, making strides in exploration with missions. both in space and on Earth.
The White House’s spending proposal to Congress included a request for more than $ 24.8 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2022, with a 9% funding increase for its science division.
In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Nelson said the introduction of “highly sophisticated instruments” like the three-dimensional climate-modeling Earth observation system “would go beyond simple weather” for the improvement of the planet.
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In addition, the former Florida senator touted the progress of commercial spaceflight, noting that the way NASA works had “already changed” because of companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
“What we have found is that the commercial activity and low earth orbit have been substantial and have been very successful,” he said. “Cargo and crew delivery where NASA gives a fixed price contract – without cost overrun – to a trading company to deliver, in this case, cargo and / or crew to the International Space Station, has been extremely successful and safe, I might add. “
Now, the 78-year-old says, the question is what is the role of corporations other than the relationship organizations have “always had” with NASA: development, technology, and research as part of a program? conducted by NASA.
Nelson pointed out that the much-awaited demonstration of the Artemis program’s human lunar lander marks an important milestone in the evolution of relations between NASA and commercial companies like SpaceX.
In April, SpaceX won the coveted $ 2.89 billion contract to develop the first commercial human lander that will land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon in 2024.
However, NASA later suspended the contract after its commercial rivals Blue Origin and Dynetics – who were also in contention – filed protests against the price.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has opened an investigation into the matter which is should end by August 4.
That said, the administrator noted that people have been “energized by what they see,” highlighting SpaceX launches in low Earth orbit.
“People were really amazed at what the commercial sector has done and made it cheaper for NASA. Because these are contracts that are negotiated and they are fixed price,” he said.
While strides have been made in the business sector by partnering with NASA, billionaire executives like Musk and Bezos also have their own ideas.
Recently, Musk told reporters about his goal of making the human race a “multiplanetary species.”
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When asked if Musk’s idea carried weight, Nelson did not mention the name of Tesla’s co-founder. Instead, he referred to the agency’s next telescope project: considered a successor to the beloved Hubble Space Telescope.
“At the end of October, we’re going to set up the next space telescope called James Webb. And, it’s going to turn back time – now you won’t believe the number, but it’s true – 13.35 billion years ago. And, it’s going to capture the light shortly after the Big Bang. And, in cosmic terms, that’s about 150 million years after the Big Bang, ”he said.
“In other words, it’s hard for me to think that this cosmos is that big. There are so many worlds and suns and solar systems and galaxies that we have never discovered. is there a circumstance elsewhere in a cosmos as large as there is another sun and another Earth revolving around that sun? ” asked the administrator. “The possibilities are endless.”
“And so, as we continue to develop, not only with our telescopes, not only listening for any sign of intelligent message, not only with human exploration further added to our robotic exploration, it fulfills our destiny. as an American people. Our character, in our DNA, is that we are always pushing a border, “Nelson said. “And that’s what makes it so exciting to be in this agency and I suspect that’s why this agency is considered the most popular agency or department of the federal government there is.”
With the promise of fantastic and wonderful mysteries on the metaphorical horizon, the future of exploration lies in the hands of NASA and Nelson.
But it’s also a team effort.
In many ways, the International Space Station (ISS) served as a reminder of this effort.
However, the political postures of the Earth have recently had an impact on “Switzerland” in weightlessness.
Russian officials have said the country will withdraw from its participation in the ISS in 2025, shortly after announcing that Roscosmos will partner with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to build a lunar research facility.
The CNSA has already sent parts for its own permanent station – and its debris made a dangerous and uncontrolled re-entry in May.
Responding to concerns about international competition, Nelson told Fox News that international cooperation has “fueled a lot of activity.”
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“We have more than 18 countries participating with us on the International Space Station. Russia built the station with us. I want Russia to continue what has been incredible cooperation in space between two countries which, on the field, often collide, “he said, adding that he hoped that space” would continue to be the place “of international cooperation with” someone who is otherwise one of our competitors and whose government does not necessarily agree with our government. “
Likewise, the administrator said his agency is “an opportunity for warring politically partisan factions” in the United States to “come together and cooperate.”
“You have seen, as far as NASA is concerned, most of the [Republicans] and more [Democrats] I love Nasa. And they understand that it is not just a two-party agency, but that it is truly non-partisan, ”he said. “Why did my confirmation go so quickly?” Indeed, everyone loves NASA. ”
“And so what I see is this little agency can be one of the beacons of how we can work together to do something, which should be a pretty good example for the rest of the government.” , he concluded. “You better start cooperating.”