WASHINGTON / SEATTLE (Reuters) – The difference between US President Donald Trump and rival presidential candidate Joe Biden goes far beyond planet earth.
President Trump plans to win the race in space call for a lunar mission in 2024 and end direct US financial support to the International Space Station by 2025 – transfer of rights Decades of orbital lab control for private space companies.
On the other hand, Biden will likely call for a delayed moon blast and propose an extension of funding for the International Space Station if he wins the White House, according to people familiar with Biden’s space program. recently.
Pushing the mission to the moon could raise more doubts about Boeing Co.’s long-term fate.
Space Launch System (SLS) rockets, like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, are scrambling to bring rival missiles to market as soon as next year.
Extending support for the space station over a decade will also be a big boost for Boeing, which has a $ 225 million annual ISS operating contract that expires by 2024 and is deep in the game. Financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and 737s. Grounding MAX after fatal accidents.
Boeing and SpaceX are currently supplying spacecraft to bring astronauts to the ISS under a program that began under the Obama administration and is supported by both Trump and Biden.
While slowing the moon blast would repel contracts for the lunar lander and related equipment companies want to win, Biden’s emerging space program appears to be widely set. to foster competition between traditional defense contractors such as Boeing and “new space” competitors such as SpaceX that promise lower costs and reusable missile systems and space vehicles.
For the commercial aerospace industry, “consistency is key,” said Mike French, vice president of the aerospace Industries Association commercial group, who previously served as NASA director under Obama said.
“If you shake off the sketch now, you will (will) risk a host of potential historic achievements and strong and sustained bipartisan backing that NASA has seen in its portfolio. “French told Reuters.
About 20 former senior NASA officials and scientists have assembled into a small group of volunteers on Operation Biden’s science committee to help informally conceptualize a space platform.
Many have held jobs in the Obama administration and are trying to take on influential roles in the transitional group or in the Biden administration.
Reuters spoke to three of these people, as well as more than a dozen lobbyists, industry executives and former NASA officials, who held separate discussions with the Biden campaign.
Members of the group also want to increase NASA’s funding for Earth science and support partnerships with other countries. They emphasized that Biden’s space agenda and employee duties to lead it, are in the formative stage as his campaign prioritizes more pressing issues, like the coronavirus pandemic and unemployment.
A Biden campaign spokesperson pointed to Biden’s earlier remarks. In August, after SpaceX launched and brought the first astronauts back from the United States on a trip to the ISS in nearly a decade, Biden said he wanted to “lead a bold space program that would Continue to send astronaut heroes to expand our borders’ exploration and science capabilities. ”
Representatives for Blue Origin and Boeing declined to comment. SpaceX and the Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
FIGHT EXCEEDING ROCKET
However, the Biden space team is divided over what to do with Boeing’s SLS, several sources said.
Super-heavy boosters have been beset with development delays and excess costs, but support tens of thousands of jobs in Alabama and California and are considered by supporters to be central to NASA’s exploration plan. and is the only path leading to Trump’s 2024 timeline for the Artemis mission.
Critics say the missile’s aging technology and launch costs of $ 1 billion or more per mission will cause the White House or Congress to formally consider the program, especially if SpaceX and Blue Origin have can provide new missiles at a lower cost.
It costs only about $ 90 million to fly Musk’s huge but still costly Falcon Heavy and about $ 350 million per launch for the United Launch Alliance’s successor Delta IV Heavy.
The two say Biden’s space policy will be more friendly to SLS or that with newer commercial alternatives from “new space” players will be hit hard by his choice of NASA administrator, a role that the campaign wants to be performed by a woman.
According to Doug Loverro, former NASA director for human space flight, NASA considers the SLS to be the only human-ranked trip to the moon in the near future.
“But is that the long term direction to continue pursuing?” Loverro asked.