A Closer Look at NASA’s Proposed Human Exploration Plan

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would launch the first element of a human-tended Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in 2022 under a proposed exploration plan that would make use of commercial and international partnerships.

A power and propulsion module would be followed soon afterward by habitation, airlock, and logistics modules. The gateway would serve as a base for astronauts to explore the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 lifted off from the surface in 1972.

“The new Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway (LOP-G) will serve as a platform in cislunar to mature necessary short and long-duration deep space exploration capabilities through the 2020s,” NASA said in a FY 2019 budget document. “The LOP-G will be assembled in orbit around the Moon where it can also be used as a staging point for exploration, science, commercial and international partner missions to the lunar surface and to destinations in deep space.”

The Trump Administration’s $19.9 billion FY 2019 budget proposal includes $504.2 million to begin development of LOP-G, which was formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway.

An additional $116.5 million would be spend on developing advanced cis-lunar and surface capabilities and $268.2 million spent on exploration advanced systems for a total of $889 million.

“Exploration Advanced Systems (EAS) focuses on design, development, and demonstration of exploration habitation capabilities technologies to reduce risk, lower life cycle cost and validate operational concepts needed for future deep space habitation elements, including the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G),” the document says.

The space station formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

The programs will build upon work already being done under the space agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program. NextSTEP is funding development work and studies on habitation modules, power and propulsion systems, in-situ resource utilization, and in-space fabrication technologies.

Although the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft remain central to NASA’s plans for lunar and deep-space exploration, the space agency said it will pursue a broad range of options to achieve its goals.

“NASA will engage with partners through nontraditional partnerships, commercial service purchases, and expanded international cooperative agreements….As part of this strategy to accelerate exploration, NASA will utilize a multitude of launch capabilities,” the document states.

“Additionally, the first un-crewed test flight of the SLS/Orion system will occur in mid-2020, leading to crewed missions in 2023. SLS and Orion will allow crewed exploration further into space than ever before,” NASA says.

An expanded view of the next configuration of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, including the four RL10 engines. (Credit: NASA)

The space agency’s ambitions are not limited to the LOP-G and human exploration around the moon. NASA wants to pave the way for astronauts to return to the surface.

“In parallel, NASA is planning to develop a series of robotic lunar missions to the surface of the Moon. NASA will use innovative acquisition approaches to engage U.S. industry capabilities as the agency moves toward human exploration of the lunar surface,” the document adds. “NASA will also work with international partners in this endeavor.”

The space agency hasn’t landed a robot on the moon in 50 years. The last American robotic lander to touch down on the surface was Surveyor 7 on Jan. 10, 1968.

The Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities budget will

 support activities such as establishing initial commercial contracts for transportation services with a maximum payload range likely up to 200 kg, developing small rovers to be delivered via commercial landers, as building and launching instruments that serve lunar science, long-term exploration and utilization needs. ACSC will solicit, engage, and nurture growing capabilities beyond those initial landing capabilities and progress to a large commercial lander in the 5000 kg class, heading towards lunar utilization and a human landing long term.

Overall Exploration Funding

The LEMNOS project will provide laser communications services to NASA’s Orion vehicle, show in this artist concept. (Credit: NASA)

The proposed FY 2019 budget includes just under $10.5 billion for the exploration campaign, an increase of $547 million over what NASA is spending in the current fiscal year under a continuing resolution (CR). The CR was necessary because the FY 2018 federal budget was not passed in time for the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2017.

Nearly $3.7 billion of that amount would be spent on SLS, Orion and the related Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program. That figure would represent a 5.43% reduction of $212.2 million from the current fiscal year.

Whether Congress will approve such a reduction remains to be seen. The Obama Administration typically tried to reduce spending on these programs in its budget proposals. However, Congress would reject the proposal and add money to the SLS, Orion and EGS programs.

The proposed budget for the space station and spaceflight operations would drop by 4.6 percent or $225.5 million.

The reduction comes in the space transportation line item. Funding for the Commercial Crew Program is reduced dramatically while the Crew and Cargo Program gets a large boost.

The change reflects a shift to development to flights of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon 2 crew vehicles. Test flights are scheduled for later this year, followed by commercial missions carrying NASA astronauts beginning in 2019.

Whether that schedule will hold remains uncertain. NASA’s internal estimates show that certification of at least one of the vehicles to carry space agency’s astronauts is likely to slip to late 2019, which would put those flights into the FY 2020 budget.

The budget includes $150 million for a new Commercial LEO Development program designed to foster the development of private commercial orbital platforms in low Earth orbit that could be operational by the mid-2020’s.

“The Budget proposes to end direct U.S. financial support for the International Space Station in 2025, after which NASA would rely on commercial partners for its low Earth orbit research and technology demonstration requirements,” the document states. “A primary purpose of the Commercial LEO Development program is to ensure that the United States has access to an orbital platform on which to conduct research and develop new technologies.”

The United States and its international partners — Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada — have agreed to operate the station until 2024. An extension to 2028 has been discussed, but none of the partners has signed off on it.

While NASA says a return to the moon requires ending the ISS program,  Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) and other members of Congress have criticized the plan as premature. Cruz and Nelson say the NASA Authorization Act of 2017 requires a study of whether station operations could be extended to 2028 or 2030.

Exploration Research & Technology

The proposed budget reorganizes NASA’s research and development programs into the new Exploration Research and Technology effort. Folded into the new initiative are the Space Technology and Exploration accounts, including the Human Research Program and elements of Advanced Exploration Systems.

“A driving requirement of the Exploration Research and Technology strategy is to serve as a key technology and risk reduction provider for NASA’s exploration missions,” the document states. “This means investment in research and development across the Technology Readiness Level spectrum and developing technologies to a flight hardware readiness state with the objectives of increasing performance, reducing risk, and increasing affordability and reliability.

“It also means developing the scientific and technological expertise to send humans into deep space for longer durations through cutting edge research on space flight and the space environment on the human body. Exploration Research and Technology activities will focus primarily on the following areas, which are central to the Exploration Campaign:

  • Advanced environmental control and life support systems & in-situ resource utilization (ISRU);
  • Power and propulsion technology (including space fission reactors, nuclear thermal propulsion, and high powered solar electric propulsion);
  • Advanced materials;
  • Communications, navigation and avionics (including laser communication, disruption tolerant networking and high performance spaceflight computing);
  • Entry, descent and landing (including Lander technologies);
  • Autonomous operations;
  • In-space manufacturing and on-orbit assembly; and
  • Research to enable humans to safely and effectively operate in various space environments.”

The decision to fold the separate Space Technology budget into the Exploration program is a controversial one. NASA’s former chief technologist, Mason Peck, decried the proposal in a recent series of  tweets.

“Disastrous news! NASA is already dismantling STMD , even though the President’s budget is only a month old. Don’t give up. We need Space Technology if we want NASA to have a bold future. I hope Congress will reject this gutting of NASA’s technology investments.”

Deputy Administrator Paquin says that virtually all of the Space Technology budget is preserved but embedded within Human Space. NASA’s plan here violates best practices for successful technology enterprises, which need independent thought and leadership.

Some say that the Space Technology Mission Directorate () is the SpaceX of : young, innovative upstarts that are changing the world, pushing the agency to embrace new ideas in space exploration and science.

In essence, Peck is concerned that funding intended for advanced technology R&D will get diverted to pay for cost overruns on hardware such as SLS and Orion that are under development.

The problem occurred during NASA’s Constellation program, which was developing the Ares rockets and Orion spacecraft. To prevent this, a separate Space Technology program was created by the Obama Administration.

Peck is also concerned over reports that NASA is implementing the plan before Congress has had time to fully consider, much less approve, the proposed change as part of the Trump Administration’s FY 2019 budget request.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, more pretty graphs and tables and charts… NASA is really good at making presentations about exploring space.

  • This will all cost more, and take longer than currently projected. Even ending ISS will take longer and cost more. NASA can’t Ok simply orphan the commercial crew vehicles they funded – they will have to fund the stations and flights to those stations to nurture that industry. And that doesn’t even mention the Moon yet…

    A real economy is going to take time and money to develop. It’s never pretty to see how the sausage gets made. Good luck everyone!

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I’m afraid that you’re right but private industry with private dollars are going to have to pick up the slack. Government should buy the products and services that they need but if there’s an industry to be had, it better figure out what it’s going to make and how it’s going to make money making it and not look to the taxpayers to defer the cost.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Is it really any different in the corporate world? Face it, leadership lies to itself. Worse yet, leadership believes their own lies. Public or private.

  • You’re right, private industry has to pick up the slack… eventually. But who’s gonna soak up a minimum of 1 commercial flight per year from both SpaceX and Boeing? Companies aren’t falling over each other to SPEND $ in space. It’s kinda like the “privatization” of Mir in the 90s. CASIS is the current way to funnel USG $ for station research, will they continue with a bigger budget to fund the flights too?

    The fact we are having this discussion means there is no functioning market there. And with neither commercial stations or commercial transport operating NOW, that will continue to be true for many years.

  • Michael Halpern

    I think they should fold hsf into the tech not the other way around,

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I agree with you 100% and I have made this point for several years on this board and you are the first person to actually acknowledge it. There is no private space “industry,” just a bunch of private space companies trying to get “government cheese.” SpaceX and BO seem to be trying to shift the paradigm but how many billionaires do we have out there interested in space exploration? I’m (relatively) sure that NASA will meet its contractual obligations, but as a lawyer, I also know that sometimes it is cheaper to breach a contract and pay the damages than to honor it.

    In any event, SpaceX built Dragon 2 with an eye toward a commercial market. I’m pretty sure from their actions that Boeing is just trying to get “government cheese” and SNC is hoping that a private space “industry” actually develops and someone will have a use for their mini-shuttle.

  • perilun

    The first customer will be the US and eventually NATO military, which has the most cheese (just cut back the F-35 by 30% and you have your money).

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Perhaps, but it will be incumbent upon private industry to find an actual need and economically (for both the customer and provider) fill it. At least F-35 had competition for the contract. You only need LEO space taxis for LEO missions and you can do the same work as the ISS in cis-lunar space plus more. That really only leaves government satellite servicing missions for now and the companies won’t survive on those rare charters.

  • Yes… to everything.
    First? That speaks ill (and sadly, truth) about the “space advocacy” world. We have billionaires building rockets, do we have an equal (or greater) number of billionaires to sell those rockets to? I’m more hopeful that the eventual market will support SpaceX, Boeing, SN, BO and even more players… but that’s an EVENTUAL market. Right now it takes years just to plan a flight, how can you have a profitable exit with those kinds of schedules?
    I know for a FACT we are in the middle a sea change from government to private space. Even if we count from SpaceX’s official founding (2002), are we 16 years into a 20 year process, or a 50 year process? The difference is KINDA IMPORTANT.
    I don’t think any rational person thinks the USG will be involved in the rocket/capsule/spaceplane/space station/etc. business like they are forever, but the handoff for that is important. Timing is everything.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I’m not one of those people who believes that the USG will only lease commercially-available vehicles in the future. Remember, every Navy ship, every AF aircraft, every Army tank, etc was built by a private company yet none are commercially available and thankfully, no private interest owns a Titan missile or M-1A1 Abrams tank. There will still be profits to be earned by manufacturing vehicles solely for government use or as government property but the manufacturers are declining in number because only a few “giants” can survive that way. The newer manufacturers/launch providers are going to have to slug it out with “Old Space” for a piece of those contracts PLUS find a true, privately-funded commercial market.

    Ain’t capitalism wonderful?

  • Yup.

    Just because there is (hopefully) a ‘commercial’ space sector in no way disallows a parallel ‘government’ one (that’s why I said the USG wouldn’t be involved LIKE THEY ARE… I never said they would get out of the game entirely). Just as you say, the USG has DIFFERENT requirements for their toys than the commercial world: Coast Guard Cutters are different beasts than commercial fishing boats, Ford class carriers are different beasts than container vessels.

    If the market stays small for an extended period (as you fear), then the tendency will be to cannibalize each other’s business (zero sum game). If it becomes a genuine economy, we’ll likely see specialization. Of course, this will take decades to play out…

  • Terry Rawnsley

    One of the reasons the Dragon 2 had better get flying soon. If Dragon has to compete with Orion for deep space missions the government will not lightly abandon their expensive but purpose-built spacecraft for a cheaper yet initially less-capable one.

  • P.K. Sink

    …“NASA will engage with partners through nontraditional partnerships, commercial service purchases, and expanded international cooperative agreements….As part of this strategy to accelerate exploration, NASA will utilize a multitude of launch capabilities,” the document states..

    That’s the part I like the best.

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    “Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities” is taking control of Lunar CATALYST. Development project COTS became operations project CRS, so something similar could be happening for lunar landers.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I think that you and I recognize the difference but the USG never “built” a launch vehicle or spacecraft. They specified what they wanted and a private corporation built it for them. As the only customer with the money, they had spacecraft and launch vehicles built for them. They weren’t “in the game,” they WERE the game. The new companies, SpaceX, BO and SNC (I don’t count anybody not looking to launch people) are making a different game. They design and pay for the vehicle and the customer decides if it suits his needs and if the price is reasonable. This is like making a line of cars or house designs. The USG will hopefully need spacecraft suited more for their own purposes and manufactures already exist for that. The new guys will hopefully be ready when and if a mass market develops and their advances will hopefully continue to drive development in both the government and commercial markets,

  • ThomasLMatula

    In the corporate world your competition, or rivals, will be glad to drive you to bankruptcy if you don’t produce. NASA has no such fears – yet.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yep, they have all the latest buzz words down 🙂

  • As I look at SpaceX’s launch manifest I see quite a number of commercial satellites both previously and in the future:


    So, how is it you say there is no private space industry?

  • I’m strongly against this current path. The Gateway is an expensive detour. If we didn’t have the Gateway held over from the previous Administration then perhaps people would be looking into the question of how we could go to the surface of the Moon in a direct and cost-effective manner. That would be to repeat the success of the public-private programs and just do rendezvous and handover if modules and propellant instead of the unnecessary Gateway middleman.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Uhhh, you’ve not paid attention to the budgeting process in Congress have you? Same rules apply. If you’d like to see how silly it gets look at the fights between the USAF and the USN over a silly argument called the B-36 vs Flattops. Or how the USAF took ICBMs from the US Army. And that rivalry, and predatory competition still goes on.

    But even if it did not, I don’t see how having predators would prevent corporate boards from believing their own lies. It’s just part of being an advocate. The simple fact is few people can hold a particular view, step outside of it and look back at their own belief system and critically take it apart, then climb back in. Individuals have a hard time with it, and institutions can hardly do it at all.

  • redneck

    Predators don’t prevent corporate boards from believing lies, they just destroy the weak ones that believe too much BS. Outside of government purchasing, the real world eventually punishes stupidity. The US dominated several manufacturing industries until getting complacent, now other countries are ahead. See automobiles.

  • SamuelRoman13

    173.1M for ’19 CC? FY starts in Sep. So 2 crewed flights, abort test for SpaceX and Boeing? Either they made a mistake or I did. More like 800M.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Like Musk, Bezos, SNC and NASA I am interested in manned space flight. Satellites are old news and if that is how you define “private space industry,” then fine. There is a nascent private space industry. I’m sure it will grow but I’m willing to let capitalism decide which companies live and which die based on their ability to “build a better mousetrap” but I see no need to funnel taxpayer money to them in order to “nurture the industry.”

  • ThomasLMatula

    The reason there currently is no private human spaceflight, beyond the tourists that have visited ISS using the Soyuz, is the government monopoly. Just as the NASA launch monopoly prevented private satellite launches before Challenger the Shuttle prevented private HSF providers emerging.

    Once SpaceX and Boeing satisfy their contracts to the government monopoly they will be able to provide private flights to the station Bigelow Aerospace is waiting to launch. Then you will see the market for private spaceflight emerge.

    But this is why it is important to oppose the NASA LOP-G, to prevent a similar monopoly in lunar spaceflight.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes and how NASA took manned spaceflight away from the USAF. But for now NASA has no competition in human spaceflight from other government agencies so it has gotten fat and happy.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, get too fat and happy in the corporate world and the vulture capitalists will be picking over your assets as you go bankrupt. Toys R Us which ruled the toy industry from the 1960’s to 1990’s is the latest example of a firm that got too fat and happy for its survival.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, like the SLS and Orion it’s a legacy of the bad space policy that President Obama allowed to be put in place under his Administration. They need to hit the reset button.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    And when those predators are powered by governments private enterprise does not stand a chance going against an immortal competitor. So you realize the long term outcome of your predator prey metric for determining fitness is a victory for state run enterprise don’t you?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The reason the USAF left human spaceflight was the overbearing way the KH-9 and KH-11 outperformed the KH-10/MOL on every metric.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    And I don’t disagree with you on that front totally, but my twist on the argument is covered in my response to Redneck above.

  • Michael Halpern

    Military has no use for hsf,

  • Government has legitimate needs in space and it benefits all if those needs are met in a way that aligns with growing crommercial space. So, for example, NASA & the DOD have need of assurred access to space for satellites, cargo, and crew. So, COTS, Commercial Cargo, and Crew not only help NASA and the DOD but also helps make America competitive in the launch market.

    My interest too is much more with HSF than satellites. Again, NASA has a legitimate need for multiple crew providers to LEO. It aligns with the potential for space tourism and later, settlement. Market forces alone wouldn’t develop HSF due to the high risks and delayed ROI. So, without public-private programs NASA would get only one very expensive crew vehicle that didn’t fly very often (i.e. Ares 1). So, we shouldn’t look at public-private programs as only a taxpayer giveaway. There’s so much more involved with them.

  • Michael Halpern

    Actually once crew dragon and cst 100 are flying they can market them to others,

    Similarly lopg doesn’t stop anyone from putting their on lunar station up or preforming lunar activities, if anything with its size its a pathfinder for others to follow

  • Bigelow himself doesn’t anticipate much private flights to his LEO station. Rather, he says that he expects to have “sovereign clients” (i.e. other countries) pay to send their national astronauts there. Governments pay better than private individuals. The costs have to come way down to have much of a space tourism or commercial space industry.

  • Michael Halpern

    Actually Dreamchaser does have an interesting use case beyond the ISS, it can act as a commercial x-37, which can be useful for many entities including companies like Made in Space should they not have access to a station or need more capacity than what’s available on the ISS

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I agree that when immediate interests align, the government may choose to utilize public-private partnerships or buy from whatever company gives them the best deal. If they want multiple options, paying for a share of it can be a cost-effective choice. How cost effective depends on how much of the developed tech will be owned by the people who footed the bills. I am in favor of commercial crew but that is where it should end. Right now both SpaceX, Boeing and SNC are behind the timeline. I’ll give SNC a pass because they got left out of the competition when they bent their test article a few years ago. The others need to fly on their current timelines – no more extensions.

    This does not mean that government in the future should not work with industry to develop what they need. If it has a commercial as well as a government use, then fine. NASA already cooperates with “Newspace” companies with advice and access to testing facilities. That should certainly continue. Where I draw the line is at the silly idea that NASA should junk the ISS early and give the business to Bigelow instead or that they should cede launch infrastructure to private industry and get out of the launch business. That would be a taxpayer giveaway.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I honestly wish him luck but I have doubts that there will be as much demand as he anticipates. The ESA doesn’t run on national pride and most governments don’t have the spare cash for a robust space program. China and Russia will more likely steal his design than pay to use his product.

  • Terry Rawnsley

    Not necessarily. Space is the new “high ground.”

  • > How cost effective depends on how much of the developed tech will be owned by the people who footed the bills.

    I’m open to the companies owning the tech because they will apply it in areas that NASA wouldn’t (i.e. commercial areas). I think that NASA getting multiple, competing providers is a pretty big benefit justifying NASA’s investment.

    > I am in favor of commercial crew but that is where it should end.

    End at LEO? No Lunar COTS programs?

    > Where I draw the line is at the silly idea that NASA should junk the ISS early and give the business to Bigelow

    I too am not favorable to a commercial LEO station but for different reasons. All the indications to me is that a commercial LEO station will not be able to pay for itself commercially much less turn a profit. Commercial actors on the ISS are thoroughly subsidized (launch, crew time, etc) and the recent NASA presenter on FISO indicated that they anticipate a commercial station needing subsidies.

    But I go further and question whether we are getting our money’s worth for the $3 B per year that we spend for the ISS especially in light of what we could be getting with the public-private set of Lunar COTS programs.

  • Michael Halpern

    Iss capacity is limited and it’s days are numbered, be it 2025 or 2028, it won’t last forever

  • Michael Halpern

    Which is very easily managed remotely from the ground, name a military activity you need people in space for that can’t be done remotely

  • Lee

    Just exactly which currently active US based orbital launch provider is non-commercial? You guessed it, none. SpaceX, ULA, OrbitalATK, and eventually BO all are commercial. The only non-commercial launcher in the US on the horizon is SLS, which has a number of fatal drawbacks:

    1) Low launch cadence which drives up costs and makes even NASA worry about how safely they can perform launches so far apart.

    2) Staggeringly high costs per launch, currently upwards of $2B

    3) The fact it will likely already be eclipsed in every category by the time it gets around to useful missions.

    It would be interesting to know which launch programs you envision that aren’t based around a commercial entity, other than SLS. If SLS is all ya got, you’re in trouble.

  • Michael Halpern

    ULA is barely commercial, they have always counted on government contracts almost entirely, OATK considers launch service as a side business fully expect Anteres to disappear shortly after CRS is over, they are first and foremost a weapons and satellite manufacturer hence why other than Anteres, all their launchers are almost entirely powered by SRMs

  • Lee

    Your arguments don’t change the fact that these are commercial launchers. Anyone can buy a launch on them if they wish. That would not be true of SLS.

  • Vladislaw

    Bigelow will need at least two per year just for his staff to test the BA330 that is now scheduled for 2021 launch.

  • Vladislaw

    DM wrote: “The reduction comes in the space transportation line item. Funding for the Commercial Crew Program is reduced dramatically while the Crew and Cargo Program gets a large boost.”

    So funding for the Commercial Crew Progam is reduced dramatically while the Commercial Crew and Cargo program gets a boost? Is that worded correctly or am I missing something?

    “The change reflects a shift to development to flights of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon 2 crew vehicles. Test flights are scheduled for later this year, followed by commercial missions carrying NASA astronauts beginning in 2019.”

    Here again . is it a shift FROM development funding TO flight funding?

  • Vladislaw

    They are commercial .. they just do not have any commercial customers. Soon they will be hard pressed to keep any government customers.,

  • Vladislaw

    WOW, you better have a talk with Robert Bigelow and inform him ALL his analysis of potential customers is totally wrong and he will waste his 450 million dollar investment.

    The Russians have a waiting list of people that wanted a shot in space. There is pent up demand and only now is that outlet going to be available and it will be, as of right now, cheaper than the price offered by the Russians to their last commercial customer it will also be for a stay four times as long. There is also a ready list of governments that would like to put one of their citizens in space and beam down to their class rooms images of THEIR astronauts.

    Think about this … Four 2nd tier countries sign a deal and together they lease 1/3 of a BA330 for 25 million for two months. They sign a couple year deal and get a discount 270 million for two years *10% discount so each country has to pay 33.75 million per year. They will keep two astronauts in LEO for six months. At Bigelow’s last prices that would be 38.25 million each for launch – six months stay – and the return flight. Each country would get an astronaut in space for 6 months.

    So for 72 million per year each of four 2nd tier countries could have a FULL UP space program and be swimming in the deep end of the pool with NASA and not have to jump through a single NASA hoop.

  • Vladislaw

    I have a feeling that governments are NOT going to be left out on this. I believe NASA, through congress, WILL grab a chunk of Bigelow just so other countries are not able to start active space science and experiments. I believe all the ISS members will do this as part of the keeping up with the Jones’es once the facility is operational. It is going to be just to cheap, in relative terms, for the governments to look bad for NOT being in space.