For the past 50 years, Americans have poured money into space exploration in order to win the Cold War and prove that America can compete with its rivals. The result has been many tangible and intangible benefits, including the development of technologies that have benefited society in countless ways.
One of the most significant is the creation of a “space industrial economy.” That economy is now beginning to blossom and will be generating trillions in wealth in decades to come. NASA’s efforts to develop technology for a space-based economy are a major part of the agency’s budget.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
NASA is the federal government agency responsible for space exploration and aeronautics research. The agency has a diverse workforce of civil servants, contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners who work together to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.
While Americans generally view NASA with positive eyes, many are concerned about the agency’s spending. Two-in-ten believe the nation spends too little on space exploration, and three-in-ten think it is adequate.
Those concerns can be partially addressed by making sure the money NASA spends on space exploration is spent wisely. For one, research conducted in space often helps improve the health of those on Earth. It is also used to develop technologies that could lead to new jobs and businesses, as well as a stronger economy.
For example, NASA invented the kidney dialysis machine, which has since become a popular medical device. It has also helped develop CAT scanners, which have since led to a number of other technologies and products that help people live better lives on Earth.
In addition, NASA ensures that inventions in space are not lost by having them turn into practical uses on the ground – these are known as spinoffs. These spinoffs help detect breast cancer, protect firefighters, nourish newborns, and much more.
It is estimated that about 2,000 of these NASA spinoffs have created or improved a product or service, resulting in more than a trillion dollars in economic output in 2018. This is just one of the ways that space exploration helps strengthen our country’s economy.
Another reason why NASA needs to increase its space exploration budget is that it is essential for the future of our planet. Climate change is causing severe problems on Earth, and we need to find solutions.
The agency has recently started investing heavily in the development of a space tug to help deorbit the International Space Station, as well as a lunar-orbiting outpost called Gateway. In addition, it has invested in a Mars sample return project to send pieces of the Red Planet back to Earth. These missions are crucial to understanding how Earth and the Solar System came to be.
European Space Agency (ESA)
The European Space Agency (ESA) aims to fund space exploration, rocket launches and Europe’s participation in planetary research. It is a budget-based agency, and the money it receives is the sum of contributions from its member states.
The amount of money that the ESA receives is not a fixed figure; it varies over time and depends on the economy. The agency’s budget has two main categories:’mandatory’ programmes, which all member states contribute to on a scale based on their GNP; and ‘optional’ programmes, which some members choose not to participate in.
For example, ESA has a’mandatory’ programme for Earth observation and research, whereas its ‘optional’ programmes are based on what the Member States decide to finance, such as satellite navigation or the International Space Station.
In the case of Earth observation, ESA’s mandatory programme includes missions such as Vigil to monitor solar activity; Hera, which will perform a detailed post-impact survey of the Dimorphos asteroid; and the first removal of an item of space debris from orbit. The ‘optional’ programmes include telecommunications, the International Space Station and microgravity research.
While ESA has never developed its own manned spacecraft, it pays for seats on the American and Russian craft, and it plans to send a crewed mission to Mars as soon as possible. It is also developing a “large logistics lander” that will be able to carry 1.9 tons (1.7 metric tonnes) of cargo to the moon’s surface and a service module that will provide propulsion, navigation and life-support for NASA’s Orion space capsule.
With a new budget in place, the ESA is set to strengthen its Ariane 6 and Vega-C launchers; complete the development of a reusable Space Rider that can stay in low Earth orbit for longer than two months before being sent back to the ground; and develop a green hydrogen system that will fuel the launchers at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana with the goal of reducing carbon emissions from the production process. The agency will also continue its work on a European secure connectivity satellite constellation called Iris that will be able to provide always-on-everywhere connectivity to all of Europe by 2027.
Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos)
Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, is a major player in the space industry. It has operated the Soviet-era Mir space station and is involved in the International Space Station (ISS) project. The agency also provides launch services for other nations and is a significant developer of satellites, especially Earth-observing ones.
The Russian government is putting a lot of money into space exploration, including launching astronomy and Earth observation satellites. The agency plans to send up a series of satellites to survey the planet’s oceans and study solar winds. It has also set up a new lunar research center and signed several agreements with China to collaborate on future lunar missions.
However, a recent budget cut has forced Roscosmos to rethink its long-term plan. Its 10-year strategy, known as the Federal Space Program or FKP-2025, was originally aimed to spend 3.4 trillion rubles ($47 billion) on space projects.
But as the economic crisis hit Russia, a broader readjustment of government spending across all sectors shaved the proposed budget by 41 percent to 2 trillion rubles, and a few long-term projects were eliminated altogether. As a result, the state-run space corporation will only get 1.4 trillion rubles to spend on space programs through 2021, Komarov said.
This is a very big cut for a company that has been struggling with economic problems and Western sanctions since the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The agency is also dealing with a number of issues related to its Vostochny cosmodrome, which opened in 2016 and is expected to replace the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Despite these problems, the Russian space agency has remained committed to the ISS and manned space flight. It has also been involved in a variety of other space programs, such as commercial satellite launches and space tourism.
The agency has a history of making changes to its mission to keep it from becoming obsolete and to ensure that it stays on track for its goals. It is currently developing a new generation of Soyuz spacecraft, which will enable it to carry cosmonauts to the moon and other destinations in the future. Eventually, Roscosmos hopes to develop a Mars-bound vehicle, as well.
Private Space Companies
Private space companies are private companies that build and launch satellites, resupply the International Space Station, and provide space tourism services. Over the last decade, these companies have grown in size and influence, eroding governments’ long-held monopoly on space exploration.
Many of these companies are privately funded and owned by individuals, but some are backed by large corporations. Some of these corporations have been in business for years, while others were founded in the past decade.
The private sector is currently in an active competition to become the dominant force in the commercial space industry. This trend is fueled by new technologies and lower costs, which make it possible for anyone with the money to fly into orbit.
These companies are also looking to build stations in orbit that will house humans and their supplies. They’re primarily interested in doing this for NASA, but they also believe that there will be strong demand from other countries with space ambitions for their own private stations.
For example, China’s civil space program has been growing at an incredible rate this decade. The country now has 78 commercial space companies operating under a policy directive issued in 2014. These companies are developing satellite manufacturing, launching vehicles, and supplying the space station.
One company specializes in the development of space-for-space technology and is working on a spacecraft that can autonomously dock with the ISS. This would help the space agency cut down on its expenses and allow it to focus on other missions.
Other private companies are building small satellites that can be used by researchers and universities. They’re also building smaller rockets that are less expensive to operate than the larger ones that are used by governments.
These smaller rockets can carry a smaller amount of cargo than the larger ones, which allows them to be launched more frequently and at lower cost. These are a great option for smaller companies who want to send satellites into space.
As the cost of flying into orbit falls, more people are becoming interested in it. This has led to a growing number of space companies offering to take people into orbit on suborbital flights. These companies, such as Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, have already sold dozens of tickets for their suborbital spacecraft.