Capitalism in space: NASA yesterday issued fifteen development contracts to fourteen private space companies, totaling $370 million, to help them develop a variety of new space capabilities.
The funding is spread across 15 contracts to 14 different companies, including SpaceX, Astrobotic, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance and Intuitive Machines.
Nearly 70% of the money is earmarked for the management of cryogenic fluids such as liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. SpaceX, for example, will get $53 million for an in-space demonstration that will transfer 11 tons (10 metric tons) of liquid oxygen between tanks on one of its next-gen Starship vehicles.
What makes these contracts different from past NASA development contracts is fundamental. First, the design work comes from the companies, not NASA. Therefore products will be designed with the company’s needs in mind, not the government’s, and will also likely be designed faster and more efficiently.
Second, the companies will own what they build, and will be able to sell or use it however they wish. SpaceX for example wants this capability to give Starship the ability to leave Earth orbit, for its own commercial flights.
Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:
If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
Cortaro, AZ 85652