Astronomical capital needs

We’ve all heard the talk of governments either having to cut services, raise taxes, or pursue public-private partnerships as a way to get out of their fiscal troubles. Apparently, these difficult choices extend into outer space as well.

The proposed fiscal year 2011 budget for NASA, the US’ space exploration agency, calls for the cancellation of the Constellation Programme – the administration’s signature programme for sending humans into outer space. The government’s Space Shuttle is to be retired as well.

But, rest assured, the agency’s got a plan: NASA administrator Charles Bolden was heard saying that the agency would outsource its space transportation to the private sector, with $50 million of grant money already on its way to five companies to design new rockets for the space programme.

“NASA Explains Private Partnership Deals for Transportation Needs,” boomed a National Press Club headline from Bolden’s speech. Perhaps someday PPPs will be visible from outer space.