Science

Trump Wants to Put the ISS in the Hands of Private Industry

Trump Wants to Put the ISS in the Hands of Private Industry

"The International Space Station is a unique laboratory and proving ground for advances that enable future deep-space exploration and improve the lives of people on Earth", a Boeing spokesperson told FOX Business.

The Head of the European Space Agency (ESA) on Tuesday said privatising the International Space Station was unrealistic, amid USA plans to cease ISS funding in 2025. The government would set aside $150 million to encourage commercial development. Russian Federation in particular has expressed an interest in developing its own space station after the ISS, potentially using some of the modules the country's space agency, Roscosmos, plans to add to its segment of the station in the next few years. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who rocketed into orbit in 1986, said it makes no sense to walk away from the space station.

The U.S. has contributed roughly $100 billion to the ISS since its creation in the 1990s.

The budget request, which was released today (Feb. 12), allocates about $19.9 billion to NASA, an increase of $370 million over last year's request.

To support and facilitate a transition to a commercially-focused platform in the mid 2020s, one in which NASA could be one of several users, "the administration is proposing to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 under the current NASA-directed operating model".

Bigelow Aerospace, for example, has talked about attaching a huge inflatable module to the space station that could be used by NASA or private industry. "Keeping these advances on track, both technologically and as groundwork for establishing a commercial marketplace in low Earth orbit, is critical".

"The administration's budget for NASA is a nonstarter", said U.S. Sen.

At first, $10.5 billion will be funded to NASA in the 2019 fiscal year, which will start on October 1st, to make the preparations for a human exploration of the Moon, as a step forward towards the exploration of Mars, and beyond.

Plus, it's up to Congress to pass a budget, not the president.

The NASA document notes that the station's global partners are each at a different state in planning for operations of the ISS beyond 2024. Andrew Rush, chief executive of 3-D printing company Made In Space, said plainly that the ISS isn't built for profit seeking.

And the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private sector transition.

Other companies, such as NanoRacks, which creates hardware and services, already has its products on the Space Station.

In 2015, Congress guaranteed funding for the United States part of the International Space Station until 2024. They will boost the lab's crew back to six, joining Expedition 55 commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese physician-astronaut Norishige Kanai.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, called it a "pretty exciting time" for the agency.


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