It’s been revealed that Congress has opened the door to a commercial rocket to launch a NASA mission to deep space. A Falcon Heavy or just another SpaceX rocket, as CNET calls it, could be soon carrying NASA’s planned Europa Clipper mission to the icy Jupiter moon Europa – this hides a subsurface ocean that a lot of experts are saying that it could support alien life.
According to the latest reports, a draft of a congressional appropriations bill that’s been released Tuesday opens the door for Elon Musk’s rocket company or a competitor such as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to offer a ride that will send an orbiter to the Jovian system by 2025 or a lander to Europa by 2027.
Jupiter Europa missions
“The National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall use the Space Launch System, if available, as the ten launch vehicles for the Jupiter Europa missions,” according to the draft bill from the House Appropriations Committee.
It’s been also revealed that a while ago, Congress has tied money for the Europa mission to a requirement that NASA uses its Space Launch System.
On the other hand, the SLS has been behind schedule and over budget for years and SpaceX has been also lapping NASA’s in-house rocket development program recently.
It’s also important to note the fact that the SLS is more expensive than what SpaceX could offer and it’s not even clear that it will be ready to go by 2025 at this point. CNET also noted that the bill provides more than $400 million for NASA to build the Europa orbiter.
New opportunity for businesses
In other NASA-related news, a new opportunity for approximately 400 small businesses future owners has been created due to the upcoming missions on Mars powered by NASA.
According to the officials, the company is seeking “an extra pair of trained eyes” that would provide plumbing fixtures, as well as AI-based medical assistants.