Trump admin considering privatizing International Space Station

Monday, 12 Feb, 2018

The Trump administration wants the International Space Station (ISS) to be run by the private industry, according to a report in The Washington Post.

The internal Nasa document suggests that although direct federal money could end, the White House is not planning to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether but will essentially privatise the effort. "NASA will continue to consult with the partnership regarding ISS transition in order to ensure consensus and the effective implementation of the ISS Program", the agency document states.

The administration will reportedly ask for $150 million in the 2019 fiscal year in its budget request on Monday.

The ISS has cost the United States government over $100bn (£72.18bn) to build and operate over the years and to pull out of the project after spending so much on it is not something that will go down without opposition, notes the report. Cruz stated that the idea would be down to "numskulls", and he hoped the reports would "prove as unfounded as Bigfoot".

"As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can to is cancel programmes after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead", Texas senator Ted Cruz was quoted as saying by the Post.

"I think all of us are open to reasonable proposals that are cost-effective and that are utilizing the investments we've made in a way that maximizes their effectiveness", he said.

NASA is still looking into the ISS' shelf-life and, as part of its research, believes it could still be serviceable until 2028.

It also doesn't seem to take into account how other space agencies around the world would feel about such a move, seeing as this is supposed to be an global space station.

"It will be very hard to turn ISS into a truly commercial outpost because of the worldwide agreements that the United States is involved in".

"It's inherently always going to be an global construct that requires US government involvement and multinational cooperation", he explained.

"Cutting funding for the station, now between $3 billion and $4 billion a year, would be a step backward for the space agency and certainly not in the best interest of the country", Kelly wrote.

It's not clear how putting the station in private hands would work, since the ISS is an global program involving a number of other countries.

The unmanned spaceship was aiming to reach the station in a record-breaking three-and-a-half hours. As it prepares a transition plan, the White House said it "will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry". The space agency awarded a 10-year, $136 million cooperative agreement to the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to manage non-NASA reach activities on the National Laboratory-the USA section of the Space Station.

Selling off the station wouldn't be the first time NASA has handed its responsibilities over to the private sector.