Can SpaceX survive without NASA?

Two days before Christmas of 2008, NASA announced it was awarding commercial cargo contracts to Orbital Sciences, for 19 flights, and SpaceX, for 12 flights. The contract was valued at $1.6 billion for SpaceX. So NASA literally saved SpaceX from bankruptcy. NASA's been SpaceX's largest customer and its biggest supporter, and we should recoginze the enormous contribution that it has made to SpaceX's success

Agreed. Though I don't think there is, ever was or ever will be a pissing match going on between the two. NASA is not a company. Their goal is not to become profitable or competitive, but to explore and experiment in space on behalf of the population.


SpaceX would not be where they are today without NASA. They used existing NASA research and technology in developing their hardware as well as getting assistance and advice from current NASA engineers and astronauts. This is nothing unusual - NASA would provide assistance to pretty much any US company with goals similar to those of SpaceX. The COTS contracts to the ISS provided a hefty cash infusion to SpaceX which helped in developing the Dragon and improving the Falcon 9. There are likely dozens of other places where NASA has helped SpaceX to become successful.

If NASA were to disappear tomorrow (effectively canceling the remaining COTS cargo contracts as well as future COTS crew contracts), it would certainly be a blow to SpaceX. The lack of this money plus the absence of any future engineering assistance would certainly slow down SpaceX in their ultimate goals. That said - I don't think it would be a death blow to SpaceX. As the one previous answer indicates, SpaceX has a number of other launch customers - commercial and military in addition to NASA contracts.

It would not be pretty, but SpaceX would likely survive. NASA isn't going anywhere, though, so the question is moot.

SpaceX has become independent recently when it has started taking orders outside of NASA, I remember SpaceX has so many launches in 2018 that has nothing to do with NASA

You have to understand the only contract NASA has given SpaceX is to transport cargo to ISS.But spaceX now also transport satellites to low earth orbits

So to answer you question, Yes it can survive without Nasa ( although it would have been a completely different case a few years ago), but yes SpaceX is not handicapped anymore

i agree with the optimism of the 2 answers. They have omitted another aspect to NASA-s presence or lack of it- the launch pads which at present Space X uses. Alternatives are, of course a vailable, and more will come up in the future.
Given the ambitious, driving spirit and organizational capacity displayed thus far by Elon Musk and his team, orders being the least of their problems, they would even go in for their own launch pads. As it is , the recovery craft-s is/are afloat and equatorial launches would yield an additional boost.

However the vast interconnectedness of factors makes prediction pretty much of a -anyones-guessing game.

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