Trump Administration Wants To Cut NASA Funding To The International Space Station
Jan 28, 2018, 00:35
The Trump administration would like to avoid a situation in which NASA is the sole or even principle customer of a commercial space station.
Ending funding would be detrimental to NASA, which uses the station to test new technology and train astronauts. After 2024, what happens to ISS is anyone's guess. Still, many in the industry would prefer that NASA fund the ISS through 2028 to provide more time for the shift to commercial ventures, according to the Verge.
"NASA and the International Space Station partnership is committed to full scientific and technical research on the orbiting laboratory, as it is the foundation on which we will extend human presence deeper into space", NASA said in an emailed statement.
For its part, NASA isn't commenting on whether this leaked piece of the budget draft will appear in the final proposed budget expected to be released in February. Online publication The Verge reported the Trump administration wants to end government funding of the ISS by 2025. Under then-president Barack Obama, the life of the station was extended to 2024.
The International Space Station costs NASA at least $3 billion each year. Companies like SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada Corp are paid billions to fly cargo and supplies there.
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On the other hand, cancelling the ISS without a replacement could lead to "a gap of human activities in lower Earth orbit", with fewer opportunities to train astronauts and test essential systems. The Verge said an intention to cancel funding could signal to global partners the United States isn't interested in the program's continuation - and many of those partners haven't yet decided if they'll keep working on the effort after 2024.
Eric Stallmer, the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said that he looks "forward to working with the administration on a transition plan for the station that includes the commercial sector playing a vital role". Losing ISS completely without a replacement already being operational would surely be a mistake as far as science and space research are concerned. In an interview, Bob Bigelow, the company's chief executive, said that he plans to launch two space habitats to low Earth orbit by 2021.
"It's one thing to say this is the last space station that will be owned and operated by the federal government", Manber said.
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