Can NASA be Saved by Private Enterprise? New SpaceX Space Taxi Unveiled

The failure of America’s formerly world-leading National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to produce a replacement to the space shuttle fleet has opened the way for private enterprises like SpaceX to pick up the slack—with the new “Dragon 2” space taxi being the latest project in this regard.

SpaceX is the company created by South African-born Elon Musk (whose first fortune was built after he invented PayPal) and which already makes the unmanned Dragon 1 spaceship—which is the only vehicle NASA has to send supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Dragon 2 which Musk unveiled on May 29 is a reusable spacecraft which, unlike all other craft to date, uses on-board rocketry to control its descent so that it can be landed on earth like a helicopter.

“You'll be able to land anywhere on Earth with the accuracy of a helicopter, which is, I think, something a modern spaceship should be able to do," Musk told a specially-invited crowd ad Dragon 2’s official unveiling.

“It will be capable of carrying seven people, seven astronauts, for several days. It has an improved version of our heat shield and it's all around, I think, really a big leap forward in technology. It really takes things to the next level,” he added.

The Dragon version 2, or V2, spacecraft is Musk's entry in an ongoing NASA competition to develop a commercial crew capsule to carry astronauts to and from the ISS.

The SpaceX unveiling Thursday drew attention to NASA's current reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft for all basic manned transportation to the ISS, following the retirement of the aged space shuttles.

Musk’s craft is competing with Boeing’s capsule CST-100, and Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser which glides to a runway landing like the space shuttle.

The critical element in the entire program is continued funding from the US Congress. NASA already faced a budget cut this year.

Given the increasing Third World origin population in America, which is one of the major causes of that nation’s continued economic decline, it is by no means guaranteed that the US government will continue to fund space travel to the extent that it had in the past.

For example, new figures out from the US Government show that since Barack Obama took office, 13 million more Americans have become dependent on food stamps, with the numbers now hitting a record 47 million—about a third more than when he was sworn in.

In 2007, there were 26 million recipients. Spending on the scheme has more than doubled just since 2008. The explosion of the program, along with other welfare schemes, has resulted in countless commentators and critics labeling Obama “the Food Stamp President.”

The increasing demand for welfare is therefore, likely to take precedence over space travel.