In last Wednesday's State of the Union address, President Obama indicated intentions for a spending freeze in 2011. Large government programs like Social Security would not be included in this freeze, but government organizations like NASA, were bracing for major budget cuts.
Turns out, NASA is on target for a budget increase. Today the AP is reporting that NASA is slated for a $6 billion dollar budget increase over the next five years specifically to innovate a space taxi system and bolster the private space industry. I believe this is a great move. Innovation sometimes needs to be pointed in a direction. The private space industry seems to have lost momentum and focus since it was born.
MFG.com was there at the true functional birth of private space. We enabled it in an incredibly specific way and watched it grow. The drive at the time was to win the X-Prize. Many X-Prize competitors used MFG.com to securely find qualified suppliers to build their components. The effectiveness and responsiveness of the MFG.com e-sourcing marketplace responded to the need of an emerging market and helped it take flight.
Then it got quiet. Scaled Composites won the prize with its completely cool Space Ship One and no one was really sure what to do next. Bigelow Aerospace is building a spaceport. Blue Origin did a test launch of a super cool pod, but their last website update was 2007. To be fair to Scaled Composites, they are the primary driver behind Virgin Galactic and they have some real velocity while others have stalled, but overall the industry seems like it is in mild disarray.
Today, however, everyone was given a direction. Build NASA a space taxi and you have a regular customer so you won't have to worry about selling tickets to tourists at $200,000 a pop.
One of the coolest things about MFG.com is we can shrink time to market for almost any engineered to order product. It was exciting to watch an industry come to life on our marketplace and I am really looking forward to helping the private space industry mature.