NASA has recent elected to inject new investments into 8 distinct space exploration technologies with transformation potential. The Projects include but are not limited to a habitat enabling long-term sleep for astronauts and directed energy for interstellar missions. This is really the catalyst for all long range space exploration to ever take place. Given the immense distances and limits of speed there is really only the variable of time that we are able to begin to grasp in our control. So in order to go the great distances of interstellar travel we are talking about years and years of travel. This is obviously a difficult proposition when you consider everything you are going to use to sustain life you are going to have to bring with you. Down to your oxygen, water, food, TP etc. And perhaps one of the biggest issue of this time is the frailty of the human mind and the fear of cracking in such extreme isolation and stress. It is simply too much for someone to ask, and some experts have likened it to solitary confinement in terms of the adverse affects of mental health.
the space agency has announced that eight studies that were previously researched as part of Phase 1 of the NASA innovative advanced concepts (NIAC) program, which have been chosen to move to the next phase, which is Phase 2.
This requires that NASA will have individual projects that may receive as must as $500,000 for 2 years of further study. This will, “allow proposers to further develop, concepts funded by NASA for Phase 1 studies that successfully demonstrated initial feasibility and benefit.”
A NASA spokes person goes on to say that “the NIAC program is one of the ways NASA engages the US scientific and engineering communities including agency civil servants, by challenging them to come up with some of the most visionary aerospace concepts,” this coming from Steve Jurczyk who is associate administrator of NASA’s space tech mission directorate. The line between tech and government is always an interesting one to define.
NASA for the first time in their history is facing something they never have before: competition. In order for them to continue to get funded they need to prove that they are a viable option on the world economy and most notably in their ability to compete with the Juggernaut of the industry SpaceX.
The fact of the matter is, is that NASA does not have a lot of the bells and whistles that private industry has, and thus can not always compete on the same playing field. More over, they have much more red tape and regulations to go through when we consider that every dollar they use comes from US tax payers and that they need to do a lot more to justify its use, as well as ensure the quality and safety of each step forward. Whereas a top private firm is going to be able to try and fail without much consequence in the attempt to reach their ultimate end goal. As they say you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, but for NASA they don’t have as many to gamble with.