NASA Is Planning To Privatize International Space Station

Adjust Comment Print

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Wanting to reinvigorate - and fund - new space exploration, which has been hit by decades of stagnation and planned government spending cuts, President Donald Trump's administration will reportedly be working to privatize the International Space Station.

That's according to The Washington Post, which says it's obtained a NASA document that outlines plans for privatization when the US government stops funding the station in 2025.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly recently wrote in the New York Times that while there has been a surge of commercial activity in low-Earth orbit in the past few years, it would "come to a screeching halt" if the ISS and its government-funded scientific missions which now make those ventures possible were halted.

NASA will release its budget proposal Monday, and the privatization plan will reportedly be included.

However, it would not be an easy task for the Trump administration and the move is expected to face severe opposition since the country has already spent around United States dollars 100 billion to launch, operate and support the International Space Station.

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz slammed the reports, claiming he hoped they would "prove as unfounded as Bigfoot" after the amount of money spent to operate the station. He said the decision was the result of "numbskulls" at the Office of Management and Budget.

'Fifty Shades Freed' tops box office with $38.8 million
Directed by Will Gluck, " Peter Rabbit " is based on the stories of the character of the same name created by Beatrix Potter. The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.

The fate of the ISS could hinge on a NASA feasibility study into whether the life of the iconic station could be extended to 2028 or beyond.

But some questioned who would want to take over the station.

The plan does not elaborate on which companies might be interested in the station or how the station might be used in the future.

"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", Aerospace Industries Association vice president of space systems Frank Slazer told the Post. "It's inherently always going to be an global construct that requires USA government involvement and multi-national cooperation".

As the Post notes, the station is no stranger to private industry; Boeing now operates it at a cost of $3 to $4 billion a year.

The White House is expected to end direct funding for the orbiting station after 2024, with documents obtained by the Washington Post indicating the laboratory could end up in private hands.

The transition of the station would mark another bold step for NASA in turning over access to what's known as low Earth orbit to the private sector so that the space agency could focus its resources on exploring deep space.