Thursday, March 04, 2010
That number comes from a chart from this article in the Economist last month, on the private space industry and its progression from a strictly engineer and physicist-related field to one more resembling business in other areas, with plenty of MBAs in the foreground and technicians busily working away in the background on the products themselves. One interesting part of the article is the fact that private companies by and large aren't concerned with how much funding NASA receives, but rather whether it will carry out its plans in the long term. Due to the political climate of the day NASA always needs to navigate around, it can often end up being forced to change plans over a shorter term than even a private company would. SpaceX for example took six years after its founding to achieve a successful flight, a period of time stretching from 2002 when George Bush was at the peak of his popularity to the very end of his second term when every second story was about Obama and McCain. On the flip side, NASA has a nice stable base of funding for low-key projects and long-term missions that is never fiddled with, and it is of course capable of working in areas that no private company could ever hope to turn a profit on at present, so each side has its ups and downs.