Space: Should it be privatized?

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Space
SpaceX Dragon capsule returns to earth in 2012

NASA’s Charles Bolden, left, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk present the Dragon capsule that returned to Earth following the first successful mission by a private company to carry supplies to the International Space Station in 2012. Photo by Bill Ingalls, released via Wikimedia Commons.

NASA and the space program run on public funds, meaning your tax dollars and mine. Funding has declined over time, and it’s always a contentious issue come budget time in Washington, D.C.

Schools, hospitals, prisons, law enforcement, and national security are outsourced or privatized. Should we outsource the space program to private companies or just be done with it and rely fully on the private sector to race into space?

In part, we already have. Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX is a private firm that has been awarded NASA contracts. SpaceX has had a number of successes, including being the first private aerospace firm to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The vehicle contained cargo, not humans, but it was an historic first.

SpaceX isn’t the only private firm. Another contender is Virgin Galactic.

Do you think private companies like these should run the space business and the U.S. government should stay out of it?

Almost a third (32%) of Americans say that space transportation and exploration should be mainly or fully funded by private companies, according to a YouGov survey at the end of last year.

Only 17% said that space transportation and exploration should be mainly or fully funded by the public (our tax dollars). That leaves half (50%) who say that the best situation would be an even mix of private and public funding.

Do you think the U.S. government should get out of the space business and let the private sector handle it?

What would the risks be if private firms “owned” space?

Do you agree with the majority—that an even mix of public and private funding is best?

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