PASADENA, Calif. — Companies interested in developing commercial space stations and related facilities in low Earth orbit are wondering if NASA’s support for such efforts has been overshadowed by the agency’s rush back to the moon.
NASA requested $150 million in fiscal year 2019 for new Commercial LEO Development program. The final omnibus spending bill for 2019, enacted in February, provided $40 million for that effort, with report language directing that money be used “for LEO port implementation analysis and other activities to enable future commercial activities at the International Space Station.”
NASA has yet to announce its plans to use that funding, panelists at a session of the Space Tech Expo here noted May 21. Some suggested the funding go towards stimulating commercial demand for use of the ISS or other facilities in LEO.
“You’ve got to find that golden nugget of demand,” said Thomas Martin, director of launch and human exploration strategy and business development at Aerojet Rocketdyne. That would include products and services that can command a price high enough to make it profitable despite the costs of getting to and from orbit. “How do we take that money and seed that market demand?”
Others, though, ...