Barcelona Moon Team congratulates Space X and Dragon but… how private is space?
SpaceX successfully completed its second mission to the International Space Station on Sunday when the Dragon spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific with more than 1,600 pounds of cargo. The mission was the first of 12 scheduled flights to the ISS under a NASA contract that has SpaceX delivering cargo through 2016.
Space X is making history being the first private company to successfully launch and return a spacecraft from orbit and the first commercial flight servicing the ISS. However how private is it really? If $200 million are invested by private companies, including $100 million from Elon Musk’s own money, still more than $900 millions are invested by NASA from progress payments on long-term launch contracts and development contracts, both in unmanned and manned flights, that is more tan 80% of its current funding.
Google Lunar X PRIZE allows for a 10% funding coming from governments, national agencies in direct grants, in-kind contributions from public sector (universities, agencies). It is true that agencies may still purchase services from the teams and this would not count against that 10%. In fact NASA already did it with its ILDD contracts to some of the American teams, but is it enough?
And in the European field, what is ESA actually doing for the European teams?