The funding for the International Space Station( ISS) might come from representatives of the private sector after 2024, according to an internal NASA document considered by the Washington Post. The document details the budget request that the Trump administration has put forward for the space agency.
“The decision to end direct federal is supportive of the ISS in 2025 does not had indicated that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time- it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform, ” the document nations, according to the Washington Post. “NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”
The ISS is a joint partnership with four other space organizations, the Russian, Japanese, Canadian, and European space organizations. It is divided into 2 segments- American and Russian- both of which have funding for runnings until 2024. Any privatization programs will have to be agreed among the other agencies, so it might be complex to achieve. Russia has also previously considered separating the Russian Orbital Segment and using it to build a new Russian Space Station, but this also depends on the future funding available to NASA’s counterpart.
The Washington Post reports that the document has very few details on how the ISS could become this “commercial platform” and the concerned authorities expects private industries to draft plans and market analysis on what they could be doing on board the ISS. Private companies such as Boeing, SpaceX, and Orbital ATK already have a partnership with NASA to supply cargo to the ISS and in the near future fly cosmonauts there.
The private sector doesn’t seem thrilled at this idea. Mark Mulqueen, Boeing’s space station program manager, stated: “handing over a rare national asset to commercial enterprises before the private sector is ready to support it could have disastrous consequences for American leadership in space and for the the opportunities of house space-focused private enterprise.”
This plan are unlikely encounter opponent in the Capitol as well. And it wouldn’t just be a democratic combat. Many on both sides of the aisle is of the opinion that there move is against American interests.
“As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can do is cancel programs after billions in investment when there was serious usable life ahead, ” Senator Ted Cruz said while discussing the future of the ISS.
The ISS commercialization plan is part of the NASA budget, which will be announced today.
[ H/ T: Washington Post]