Trump Administration May End Funding For The International Space Station
28 January, 2018, 00:34 | Author: Archie Newman
"If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they're going to have a fight on their hands", Nelson said in a statement. With the end of the station's service life approaching, the White House wants NASA to turn its attention to SLS and DSG as the agency pivots to a focus on lunar exploration.
If the Deep Space Gateway program falls behind schedule, ending operations on the ISS prematurely could lead to a gap in US access to space. The Verge also said many people in the commercial space industry have hoped for another extension until 2028, so NASA could transition ISS operations to the commercial sector, or companies could "establish a commercial module in lower Earth orbit" - which they might not be able to accomplish by 2024. Since 1993 the U.S. has spent over $87 billion to build and operate it, with ongoing costs until 2024 estimated at between $3 and $4 billion per year.
Details of the budget proposal could change between now and the February 12 release date.
The president's official budget for fiscal year 2019 is scheduled to be released next month, but a draft proposal, seen by The Verge, would call for US support for the program, which has been in place for more than 20 years, to end.
In 2014, NASA pledged to keep the ISS open, thanks to the Obama Administration extending funding through 2014.
NASA did not comment on the leaked budget proposal but said that the partnership between NASA and the ISS continues. During his year in space, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a fair amount of time fixing the toilet. Companies like SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada Corp are paid billions to fly cargo and supplies there.
The draft budget proposal states that the end of federal government support for ISS operations would be tied to "transitioning to commercial provision of low Earth orbit (LEO) capabilities". NASA is working with global partners to develop a Deep Space Gateway, a space station that would orbit near the moon to help prepare for deep space missions.
The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017, signed into law last March, directed NASA to develop an ISS "transition plan" that would "transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise". Companies like Bigelow and Axiom need to start developing private markets, everything from space tourism to manufacturing products in microgravity. "What also is a fact is the ISS is still the only game in town that we have at the moment".
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