Trump wants to privatize the International Space Station

15 February, 2018, 07:08 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Sergey Savostyanov  TASS

"We have a lot of work to do".

The space station is scheduled to operate through 2024. Rumors about ending federal funding have circulated for some time, and The Washington Post reported on the plansover the weekend.

It didn't immediately propose what private enterprise might do with the station or which companies might take it over. So the White House's proposal is more a statement of priorities - and not everyone is happy with it.

Boeing, along with Elon Musk's SpaceX, are both in the process of developing crew transportation systems to enable US astronauts to travel on an American-made space vehicle-currently the USA pays Russian Federation $80 million per seat to travel on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

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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. But he's said he not convinced the industry could bear the financial burden of maintaining the space station by the mid-2020s.

"It's imperative, it's critical", Bigelow Aerospace founder and President Robert Bigelow told FOX Business, regarding the White House's budget request.

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".

The same budget proposal proposes to pull the plug on WFIRST, a space telescope mission that NASA said is "designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics".

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USA aerospace and defense company Boeing (BA) operates the ISS for NASA, being selected as the prime contractor for the Space Station in 1993 and a cost-plus-award-fee contract with NASA that began in 1995.

Frank Slazer, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, said the plan also could prove sticky with the station's worldwide partners. NASA pays for launch costs and astronauts' time to run the experiments.

Additionally, the new budget proposal will cancel five Earth science missions, including the Radiation Budget Instrument, the Plankton; Aerosol; Cloud; ocean Ecosystem (PACE), the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR)'s Earth-viewing instruments, and the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder. Both nations are required for the space station to function with any degree of safety using separate flight control centers. Last month, as reports circulated about NASA pulling the plug on the station, Mark Mulqueen, Boeing's space station program manager, said "walking away from the International Space Station now would be a mistake, threatening American leadership and hurting the commercial market as well as the scientific community".

And SpaceX and Boeing are each developing spacecrafts to send astronauts to and from the space station.

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NASA Acting Administrator, Robert Lightfoot gave the address and was nothing but optimistic and confident, starting things off by saying "American will lead the way back to the moon and take the next giant leap from where we made the first small step almost 50 years ago".

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