Of course the inventions that are bound to happen and are already happening as I discussed in an earlier blog, and will continue to occur and our government won’t own a chunk of it.
The government will be able to regulate it at later date if it so chooses. (And I think it probably will become an issue in a few years!) Also if NASA wants it can wait until an engine for faster space travel or some cool space suits have been developed to protect one from the radiation and then jump back in the race and buy the finished product instead of paying for all those failed attempts.
Maybe our first encounter will be more promising if that encounter is by say XYZ Corp instead of the government. Perhaps for the wrong reasons, but does that really matter if the outcome is the same? The government might shoot now ask questions later where as the companies might see an advantage to asking questions and gaining some relations up front. Of course we are used to SciFi movies where the corporations greed takes us down a road that leads to imminent doom.
With a financial balance sheet that needs some work, we as a country are not keeping the EPA working to guarantee our air is breathable or our waters are clean, to try and protect a future on Earth or at least have a vigorous Space Program to seek out some place else to have that future; I guess it becomes the duty of our brave citizens.