It's Time For NASA To Step Aside And Let Private Industry Take Us To Mars

Funding forays into space is a mission for investors, not taxpayers.

Written by David Williams via RealClear Wire

(emphasis ours)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is once again bilking the taxpayers into infinity and beyond.

NASA has been preparing for its Mars Sample Return mission (MSR), which will collect soil samples from Mars to determine if there is any life on the Red Planet. According to a

Recent Report

Costs are out of control. The independent review panel tasked with reviewing the program concluded that the mission was marred from the start by "unrealistic expectations regarding budget and schedule."

Reviewers concluded that it is "nearly impossible" that the mission would launch in 2028, as NASA had stated. It's high time NASA ditched its expensive payload in favor of keeping costs low.

NASA has been a part of the world for many years.

Planning and Study

How to best return samples from the Martian Surface. Former NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine even

Call the effort

"A civilization-level-changing capability" that could 'help us discover life on an alien planet'. Talk is cheap compared to the rising costs of the program. A report by independent reviewers released in 2020 stated that the MSR mission had been a success.

Cost of a slated

From $3.8 billion to $4.4 trillion. NASA is expected to reach its full potential by June 2023.

Pushing back is a popular way to push back.

Despite credible reports that cost had risen to $8-$9 billion, the report was disputed. The latest report indicates that the upper limit is $11 billion. This further undermines the credibility of a notoriously underestimating agency.

NASA could reduce costs by delaying the launch of the orbiter and lander until 2030. However, even then the mission will cost at least 8 billion dollars and require $1 billion per year in constant spending between fiscal years 2020 and 2028.

The authors of the report miss a great opportunity to hold NASA responsible for their galactic mistakes. The authors chose to assess the mission's importance rather than criticize it.


By abandoning the MSR, the US would "abandon...the dominant role that JFK assigned to scientific exploration of space ...' In a time where multiple private companies are

Mars charting mission

It is not clear why taxpayers are expected to pay for such a technical and challenging task. The private companies have every incentive to control costs, unlike an agency that is notorious for cost overruns.

NASA's return to the Moon has been plagued with scheduling delays and cost increases.

Taxpayers are likely to be forced to pay.

100 billion dollars

Before another'small' step can occur

According to a

new audit

NASA's Inspector-General (IG) has revealed that the Space Launch System rocket (SLS), which is slated to take astronauts to the Moon, is $6 billion over budget. NASA originally believed that using older technologies, such as the Space Shuttle and Constellation programs, would save money on the mission. These savings were incorporated into initial cost estimates. The complexity of updating and integrating heritage components with new systems proved to be greater than expected. Costs have soared out of control.

NASA's contractors have also found it extremely difficult to stay within budget.

The IG


'NASA used cost plus contracts when we believed fixed price contracts would have been more effective in reducing costs. For example, the addition of 18 production engines to the RS-25 restart and production contract, and the acquisition of Artemis IV long-lead booster materials under the BPOC Letter contract. The award fees are out-of-control, and contractors do not have any incentive to stick to a bottomline. The IG found NASA to have violated the contracting rules.

Already spent $40 billion

The return of astronauts to the Moon is likely to occur.

Spending close to $100 billion

Total on the venture

It is not a question of whether or not missions to Mars and the Moon should be undertaken, but rather who will lead the way into space.

NASA is awash in the wrong incentives, which encourage cost overruns. Investors, not taxpayers, should be the ones to fund space explorations.

David Williams is president of Taxpayers Protection Alliance.