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Trump funds U.S. money for Worldwide Area Station

15 February 2018, 07:08 | Myrtle Vega

Sergey Savostyanov TASS

Sergey Savostyanov  TASS

The Trump administration wants to have private entities take over operation of the International Space Station (ISS), which costs over US$3 billion a year to run, according to the Washington Post.

The white house proposal released on Monday says, "The budget proposes to end direct U.S. financial support for the International Space Station in 2025, after which NASA would rely on commercial partners for its low Earth orbit research and technology demonstration requirements". The government would set aside $150 million to encourage commercial development and use future savings to aim for the moon.

The idea is to ensure a seamless transition from government-funded ISS operations to an outpost using new components, or even elements of the current space station, that would be operated as a base for private sector innovation, worldwide cooperation and NASA experiments and research needed for eventual flights back to the moon and on to Mars.

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

The FY 2019 budget provides a top-line number of $19.892 billion for NASA, an increase over the FY 2018 budget of $19.519 billion that is largely attributable to the recent budget agreement passed by Congress, which raises spending levels for defense and discretionary spending.

And the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private sector transition.

SpaceX and Boeing, meanwhile, are developing crew capsules to fly astronauts to and from the space station within the next year.

"I'm just delighted that the Trump administration is willing to begin a genuine dialogue that we now have several years to plan", NanoRacks CEO Jeff Manber told FOX Business.

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A complete transfer to the commercial sector is a different matter, however. According to an internal NASA document acquired by The Washington Post, the ISS could transition from being used by the USA government to becoming a privately-operated real estate venture.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who leads the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, also recently referred to supporters of exiting the ISS program as "numbskulls".

A report says the Trump administration is planning to privatize the International Space Station (ISS).

While the budget plan said it places renewed support on returning humans to the moon, followed by human expeditions to Mars and elsewhere, no precise timeline and few details are provided.

The draft transition proposal states that a platform of some sort in low-Earth orbit is needed for medical research to learn more about the long-term medical impacts of the space environment and to develop the life support and other critical systems needed for eventual long-term stays on the moon or even longer flights to Mars.

The WFIRST was in line after the James Webb Space Telescope, which is going to be launched in 2019, as the next big thing in astronomy mission.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA's acting administrator, called it a "pretty exciting time" for the agency.



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