from the rockets-are-expensive dept.
Commercial space companies want NASA to expand the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. SpaceX's senior vice president for global business and government affairs called for the COTS program to be extended to deep space activities:
Commercial space companies today (July 13) urged legislators to extend NASA's successful public-private partnerships for International Space Station transportation to future programs, including human missions to Mars.
NASA already is working with six firms to develop prototype habitats that would augment the agency's multibillion-dollar Orion capsule and Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket. NASA has said it intends to use the system to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.
[...] Technologies that SpaceX would be interested in developing in partnership with NASA include heavy-cargo missions to Mars, deep-space communications systems, and demonstrations of vertical takeoff and landing on the moon, Hughes said.
This proposal was foreshadowed last year in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the International Astronautical Congress there, Musk presented a sketch of the architecture needed to lower the cost of transit to Mars enough to make colonization feasible. His top-line cost of $10 billion, however, is likely out of reach for SpaceX in the near term—without the help of a big-pocketed government. "There's a lot of people in the private sector who are interested in helping fund a base on Mars, and perhaps there will be interest on the government sector side to do that," Musk said last fall.