Trump budget would privatize USA space station operations

The space station now is authorized through 2024 and while many at NASA believe the outpost's lifetime could be extended at least another four years to 2028, no such decisions have been made by the United States and its global partners - Russia, the European Space Agency, Canada and Japan. However, many public and private stakeholders of the ISS are targeting an extension for the space station program until 2028.

NASA would launch a small station, called the Deep Space Gateway, into orbit around the moon. This hugely expensive program - which unlike SpaceX rockets, has no reusable parts - would receive $3.7 billion, close to 20 percent of NASA's entire budget.

The proposed budget for NASA for fiscal year 2019 is at $19.6 billion, about half a billion higher than the requested budget for this year.

Wörner sees a continuing demand for research in Earth orbit and predicted: "We will need experiments under conditions of weightlessness in low earth orbit beyond 2024".

His company's plan is to attach its own compartments to the existing International Space Station and, once the decision is made to dismantle the complex, detach its segment and continue orbiting on its own.

Almost half of the proposed $19.9 billion budget - $10.5 billion - is earmarked for "an innovative and sustainable campaign of exploration and lead the return of humans to the Moon for long-term exploration and utilisation followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations", according to a NASA overview.


Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut, said the proposed plan to stop funding the International Space Station "makes no sense".

Putting $150 million toward commercial development for the space station would be a "great indication" the administration is confident in what the private sector can do, CSF executive director Tommy Sanford told CNN. The transition draft says NASA will continue to consult with its global partners "to ensure consensus".

"It's a good place for the conversation to begin", said Andrew Rush, CEO of Made in Space, which uses 3D printing to build hardware for space.

Starting from the George W. Bush administration, NASA had taken some initial steps in turning over access to the low-Earth orbit to the private sector, outsourcing cargo supply flights to the station to private companies SpaceX and Orbital ATK. Drug companies like Merck and Eli Lilly have used the space station to research medications. WFIRST was a mission that the National Academies of Science listed as the decade's No. 1 priority for future NASA astrophysics missions.

Cochair of the WFIRST research team, David Spergel, who is an astrophysicist at the Princeton University, thinks that it is bad that space astronomy leadership is being abandoned, following the recommendation of the Trump administration to cut the mission.

In an agency-wide address, NASA's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said it was a "very exciting" budget with lots of potential, despite some hard decisions.


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