Space Program Mavens Comment on the Future of Space Exploration: Joint NASA/Commercial Partnerships Coming to the Forefront; China to Play a Prominent Role

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As space shuttle Atlantis lands today for the last time, marking the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, Maven, the Global Knowledge Marketplace, surveyed space program experts to ask the question: “what is the future of space exploration?”

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“Our experts understand the current space program, the challenges facing American space exploration and the opportunities for greater international cooperation and private sector involvement.” – Wyatt Nordstrom, Co-Founder and CEO, Maven

As space shuttle Atlantis lands today for the last time, marking the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, Maven, the Global Knowledge Marketplace, surveyed space program experts to ask the question: “what is the future of space exploration?” Those who answered the survey included many of Maven’s space experts – aerospace engineers, scientists, and others involved with manned spaceflight.

The results show a definitive shift from a NASA-centric space program and increased role of other countries and private industry in the coming years.

NASA’s Contributions Changing

While a vast majority (75%) of the respondents the continuation of space exploration was either extremely important or very important, a majority (62%) also said that although NASA will remain an important contributor to manned spaceflight, it will no longer be the most important player.

Private Industry’s Role in Space Exploration

When asked to predict who will drive space exploration in the United States in the year 2020, most Maven experts said that a combination of NASA and private industry will do so, with a significant minority (37.5%) arguing that NASA alone would continue to be the primary driver of manned spaceflight.

China Going to the Moon… but not the United States?

On the subject of new space projects, experts were asked what they believed the biggest priority should be in the future. There was significant disagreement on this point, with no single goal selected by the majority. The development of a permanent presence on the moon received the most votes, followed by the expansion of the Space Station and extension of its life, landing a human on an asteroid, a manned mission to Mars, and deep space exploration (either manned or unmanned).

Half of all respondents believe that China will be the next country to land a human on the moon, although nearly an equal number indicated that a combination of countries working together will accomplish this feat. Perhaps most surprisingly, not a single respondent selected the United States as the next country to make a lunar landing.

“The respondents to this survey are qualified experts who have worked with the space program and the industries that serve that program,” commented Maven Co-Founder and CEO Wyatt Nordstrom. “They understand the current space program, the challenges facing the future of American space exploration in the wake of the shuttle’s retirement, and the opportunities for greater international cooperation and private sector involvement. It is clear from their responses that most consider the era of US-dominance in space to be over. ”

The participants were also asked to give their opinion on NASA’s current priorities and future plans. A few highlights of these comments include:

“NASA currently selects projects based on science experiments, research opportunities and investigations submitted by Universities and academia. That focus needs to change to emphasize opportunities that demonstrate potential technologies that can be commercialized for the benefit of industry and the public.”

  •     Spacecraft Design Engineer

“NASA needs to continue to concentrate on "near earth" exploratory activities and technologies. Many of the critical research and study activities that have brought NASA and Defense technologies into American industrial businesses have been lacking. It is many of these discoveries that have given America a technology advantage in the global marketplace for US produced Aerospace products”

  •     Aerospace & Defense Contractor

“NASA is spending too much time with manned flights whereas unmanned expeditions could and will achieve 90% of the same objectives.”

  •     University Professor, expert on effects of weightlessness on the human body

A summary of all survey questions and responses may be found here: http://www.maven.co/blog/2011/07/21/nasa/. Many of the Mavens surveyed are available for further comment and interviews. If the news media is interested in speaking with the survey participants, please contact Chuck Hester, PR Maven at chester(at)maven(dot)co

About Maven
Maven (http://www.maven.co/) is a global network of industry professionals, thought leaders, and experts who seek to connect with others and share their knowledge. Maven's proprietary "microconsulting" platform allows members to participate in short duration telephone consultations and electronic surveys in exchange for direct compensation by Maven's clients. For more information, please visit http://www.maven.co/ or contact Chuck Hester, PR Maven, at chester(at)maven(dot)com

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Chuck Hester
Maven Research, Inc.
(919) 607-1522
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