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NASA’s Chief Economist Welcomes Industry Competition for Space Contracts

Alexander MacDonald,

Chief economist,


NASA’s Chief Economist Welcomes Industry Competition for Space Contracts

Alexander MacDonald, the chief economist at NASA, welcomed the aggressive competition among companies for space agency contracts, saying it will help make human space exploration more affordable.

The official made the comments during his appearance at a TechCrunch online panel discussion.

According to MacDonald, one exciting prospect, from a market dynamics perspective, is the race between companies to develop commercial stations, SpaceNews reported Tuesday.

NASA is seeking proposals from industry for commercial low Earth orbit destinations in anticipation of the impending retirement of the International Space Station. The space agency said in a previous announcement that the CLDs will support the growth of commercial LEO activities and the development of a robust commercial space economy from which customers, including private entities, public institutions and foreign governments, can purchase services.

Lockheed Martin, together with Nanoracks and Voyager Space, is working on a free-flying commercial space station called Starlab, which is expected to achieve initial operational capability by 2027.

Meanwhile, Blue Origin is teaming up with Boeing, Redwire and Sierra Space for its Orbital Reef space station.

MacDonald argued that having diverse concepts from commercial companies is important in human spaceflight.

“Commercial space is already playing a massive role in the delivery of NASA missions” and more partnerships will be pursued, he added.

The Space Force, despite lagging behind NASA in terms of commercial partnerships, is also looking forward to procuring more commercial services beyond satellite communications.

Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David Thompson told attendees at the TechCrunch forum that the nascent service branch wants to purchase commercial services for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space situational awareness data, and on-orbit logistics and resupply in the future.

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Category: Space

Tags: Alexander MacDonald Blue Origin commercial space station human space exploration industry competition Lockheed Martin NASA space Space Force SpaceNews