The full privatization of U.S. space transportation will bring two immediate benefits. First, America can and will recapture global leadership in commercial space transportation (we are currently fourth in launches per year, behind Russia, Europe and Ukraine), bringing thousands of good jobs back to America. Second, since NASA will be purchasing services—essentially tickets for crew and cargo—on the same commercial transportation used by the Defense Department, the department will save money, which can be used to improve U.S. national security.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of this transition will be NASA. Private industry can build the rockets, and do a much better job at lowering costs than any government agency. NASA can then focus on the important and difficult jobs that only NASA can do Among other things, this would include developing gamechanging technologies such as advanced electric propulsion that are still too risky for any company to invest in, and which will create brand-new industries in the 21st century.
A renewed and refocused NASA is critical to America’s future. So as the country struggles with trillions in debt and deficits, it makes no sense for NASA to build rockets that are already available or can be developed at much lower cost by U.S. private industry. Why spend approximately $20 billion to build an unneeded SLS super-heavy-lift rocket, for instance, when existing commercial rockets can carry payloads more often, efficiently and cheaply?
Unfortunately, it makes lots of sense once you understand that the purpose is not to actually do anything useful in space. That’s just lagniappe, if we’re lucky enough to get it.