WaPo: Trump admin looking to privatize International Space Station

WaPo: Trump admin looking to privatize International Space Station

The station is a joint project of several space-faring nations, and NASA has contracted with private companies, like Boeing and SpaceX, to reach it in recent years.

In his 2019 budget for the USA government, Trump on February 12 proposed to end NASA funding for the space station by 2025.

According to United States government, the proposed $150 million will be used to create a programme to help prepare private companies or commercial entities to take over the ISS operations over the next seven years, as reported by BBC.

Many scientists and space experts have started expressing concerns regarding Trump's proposal of cutting government funding for the ISS.

"Their momentum continues this year toward the first integrated launch of the system in fiscal year 2020 around the Moon and a mission with crew in 2023", Mr Lightfoot said.

It was not clear if NASA envisions partners taking over some or all of the ISS, or if the football field-length research complex would be dropped from orbit and replaced by commercial stations.

The proposed budget for NASA for fiscal year 2019 is at $19.6 billion, about half a billion higher than the requested budget for this year. Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA who now runs Axiom Space in Houston and aims to establish the world's first commercial space station cautioned that the USA government needs to have a direct hand in the International Space Station until it comes down.

The goal of that effort would be to have commercial facilities in operation by the time NASA funding for the ISS ends in 2025, with NASA potentially being a customer of those facilities to support its research needs, such as for exploration beyond Earth orbit.

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"Walking away from the International Space Station now would be a mistake, threatening American leadership and hurting the commercial market as well as the scientific community", Mulqueen said in a statement. The ISS was pretty much finished in 2011 when Nasa's space shuttles were retired.

The 2019 budget proposal is dominated by space exploration, with over $10 billion allocated to deep space endeavors, including a specific emphasis to "pursue a campaign that would establish USA preeminence to, around, and on the Moon".

"The administration's budget for NASA is a nonstarter".

Putting $150 million toward commercial development for the space station would be a "great indication" the administration is confident in what the private sector can do, CSF executive director Tommy Sanford told CNN.

"It's a good place for the conversation to begin", said Andrew Rush, CEO of Made in Space, which uses 3D printing to build hardware for space. Russian Federation has scrubbed the planned launch of an unmanned cargo spacecraft that was to have delivered tons of supplies to the International Space Station.

CASIS said Monday it doesn't know what a commercially run space station would look like, but "looks forward to working with both the Administration and Congress on the future of the International Space Station".

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

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