International Space Station could be privatised under Trump administration plans

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

The United States has already spent about $100 billion to build and operate the station; NASA is studying whether its useful life could be extended to 2028 or beyond.

The administration will reportedly ask for $150 million in the 2019 fiscal year in its budget request on Monday. In other words, to transition to some sort of a public-private partnership.The document says NASA will expand global and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to "ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit".

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has ripped plans to defund the space station, hoping those reports "prove as unfounded as Bigfoot" and calling Office of Management and Budget decision-makers "numbskulls", according to the Post.

Nasa is now studying the feasibility of extending the life of the ISS to 2028, and possibly beyond, with the White House urging the space agency to focus on landing on the moon again in preparation for further deep space missions.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said the launch was halted after an automated command, but said the reason for the command was under investigation.

The internal NASA document has scant details over how the privatization of the station would work. The proposal envisions an environment where NASA is "one of many customers of a non-governmental human space flight managed and operated enterprise" at the ISS.

The White House will seek market analyses and development plans from the private sector to ensure a smooth transition. In 2014, the Obama administration supported funding for the station through 2024, and the potential transfer of the ISS to private hands would mark a significant step in the trend toward private companies engaging in space travel.

The station was built between 1998 and 2011 and has been visited by 230 individuals from 18 countries, space.com said.

News broke last month that the Trump administration was planning to cut off funding to the International Space Station by 2025, but it was assumed that they either planned to de-orbit the station, or that they simply hadn't thought that far ahead.