Astrobotic's Peregrine lander

An artist’s conception shows Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander on the lunar surface. (Astrobotic Illustration)

The Trump administration’s proposed shift to commercial partners for space operations in low Earth orbit as well as on and around the moon is getting a predictably positive reception from those potential partners.

“This moment here, with the shift to the moon, is what we’ve waited 10 years for,” John Thornton, CEO of Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic, told Geekwire. Astrobotic has been working on a series of private-sector lunar landing missions and is now looking forward to heightened interest from NASA.

Over the next few years, hundreds of millions of dollars would be set aside for private-sector moon missions and for commercial ventures in low Earth orbit — either by putting private ventures in charge of the U.S. segment of the International Space Station, or by establishing new orbital platforms.

Not everyone is thrilled by the budget proposal, in part because it calls for phasing out federal funding for the space station by 2025. The critics include leading members of Congress who will have to fine-tune and approve the budget proposed today.

Today Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said abandoning the space station would be a “non-starter.”

“Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we’re pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense,” Nelson said in a tweet.

But Robert Bigelow, the billionaire founder of Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace, said the shift toward commercialization is “Earth-shattering news.”

“Bigelow Aerospace applauds the focus on commercial partnerships for low Earth orbit and lunar exploration, and stands ready to partner with NASA and others — in new and exciting ways that we will announce in the near future,” he said in a tweeted statement.

Space station ventures

Bigelow already has a test module on the space station, and has …read more

Source:: GeekWire


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