NASA, Boeing, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have participated extensively in the US elections


Donald Trump watches the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Washington / Seattle:

The differences between US President Donald Trump and rival candidate Joe Biden extend far beyond planet Earth.

President Trump’s plans to win the space race call for a 2024 lunar mission and an end to direct US financial support to the International Space Station in 2025 – transferring control of the decades-old orbital laboratory to private space companies.

Biden, on the other hand, would likely call for a postponement of the moon and propose an extension of funding for the International Space Station if he wins the White House, according to people familiar with Biden’s nascent space program.

Delaying the lunar mission could cast more doubt on the long-term fate of Boeing Co’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, just as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin scramble to bring rival rockets to market as early as l ‘next year.

Extending support for the space station for a decade would also be a major boost for Boeing, whose annual $ 225 million ISS contract will expire in 2024 and is in the depths of a financial crisis. caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 737. MAX grounding after fatal accidents.

Boeing and SpaceX are already providing spacecraft to transport astronauts to the ISS as part of a program launched under the Obama administration and supported by Trump and Biden.

While slowing the moon’s firing would push back contracts for lunar landers and related equipment the companies aim to win, Biden’s emerging space program appears largely intended to promote competition between mainstream defense contractors like Boeing and the “new space” rivals like SpaceX that promise lower costs. and reusable rocket systems and space vehicles.


For the commercial space industry, “consistency is key,” said Mike French, vice president of the Aerospace Industries Association business group who was previously NASA’s chief of staff under Obama.

“If you shake the sketches now, you are risking (risking) a series of potentially historic achievements and the strong and sustained bipartisan support that NASA has seen in its portfolio,” French told Reuters.

About 20 former senior NASA officials and scientists have come together as a subgroup of volunteers under the Biden Campaign Science Committee to informally help develop ideas for a space platform.

Many have held positions in the Obama administration and are vying for influential roles on the transition team or in a Biden administration.

Reuters spoke to three of those people, as well as more than a dozen lobbyists, industry executives and former NASA officials who have had their own talks with Biden’s campaign.

Members of the subgroup also want to increase NASA funding for earth sciences and support partnerships with other countries. They pointed out that Biden’s space program and the staff assignments to lead it were in a formative phase as his campaign prioritized more pressing issues, such as the coronavirus pandemic and unemployment.

A spokesperson for the Biden campaign pointed to Biden’s previous remarks. In August, after SpaceX launched and returned the first astronauts from U.S. soil on a trip to the ISS in nearly a decade, Biden said he was eager to “lead a bold space program that will continue to grow. ‘send astronaut heroes to expand our exploration and science. frontiers. “

Representatives for Blue Origin and Boeing declined to comment. SpaceX and the Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.


But the Biden space group is divided over what to do about Boeing’s SLS, multiple sources said.

The ultra-heavy rocket has been beset by development delays and cost overruns, but supports tens of thousands of jobs in Alabama and California and is seen by donors as a central part of plans to exploration and the only path to Trump’s 2024 schedule for the Artemis mission. .

Critics say aging rocket technology and launch costs of $ 1 billion or more per mission should prompt the White House or Congress to formally review the program, especially if SpaceX and Blue Origin are able to come up with new rockets at a lower cost.

It costs as little as $ 90 million to pilot Musk’s massive but still less powerful Falcon Heavy, and some $ 350 million per launch for United Launch Alliance’s legacy Delta IV Heavy.

Whether a Biden space policy would be friendlier to SLS or to the new business alternatives of “new space” players will be heavily influenced by his choice of NASA administrator, a role the campaign wants to be filled by. a woman, two people said.

NASA considers the SLS to be its only short-term human-value trip to the Moon, said Doug Loverro, the former head of human spaceflight at NASA.

“But is this the long term direction to pursue?” Loverro asked.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)


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