Recently NASA announced a new supersonic jet as part of its New Aviation Horizons initiative. The goal is to create a jet that uses quiet supersonic technology (Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to build such a jet).
It remains to be seen how this project will turn out.
One thing is clear, and that NASA, like several other government entities (e.g. the Postal Service, AMTRAK, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Smithsonian, and FDIC) needs to be privatized.
As mentioned in Jonathan Leaf’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Sixties, the United States was not losing the space race (contrary to what the Kennedy Administration had claimed). In fact, there wasn’t much of a race going on at all, despite the Soviet launch of Sputnik and Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man to journey into space. Nor was there any race to the moon, since the Soviets were not interested in sending anyone there. Such fears of America losing the space race were 1) political goals, i.e. the 1960 presidential candidates, and 2) the aftermath of the Second Red Scare which emerged after World War II, which led to the Eisenhower Administration’s being pressured into creating NASA (despite the scientists on the advisory committee pointing out that such an agency would result in many complications and financial costs).
Leaf goes on to mention that it is more costly for NASA to rely on manned flights than unmanned flights to achieve any of it goals. This is due to manned flights having to return to Earth, thus the need for larger sized-rockets equipped with oxygen, provisions, and other essentials in order to ensure that the astronauts have a safe journey.
Leaf also mentions the sad side of America’s space project — the use of Nazi scientists such as Werhner von Braun (who developed the V-2 rockets used during World War II and relied on slave labor from concentration camps to carry out his projects — many of whom were worked to death). Another Nazi scientist working for NASA was Arthur Rudolph, former superintendent of the Dora concentration camp. These individuals (fearing the wrath of the Soviets) fled to the West, and thus took advantage of the Cold War.
Leaf even mentions that America’s space program did not lead to new inventions (e.g. Teflon and Velcro – both of which had been around for decades). Perhaps the only significant invention that NASA came up with was the bar code scanner, used to keep inventory of the many parts needed to assemble space rockets.
In conclusion, while space exploration might be beneficial in the field of science, it is best done in the private sector. Thus, NASA should be privatized. Whether or not such a change takes place is yet to be seen, especially since unfriendly nations (e.g. China) seem to be interested in the conquest of space.