US Wants to Privatise NASA's International Space Station, Says Report

Sergey Savostyanov  TASS

The Trump administration aims to privatize the International Space Station by 2025, redirecting NASA's investment in the orbiting laboratory complex toward a lunar exploration program.

The good part of the plan is that NASA would set aside $200 million for rides on commercial landers to the lunar surface.

The proposal has stated that given budget constraints and competing priorities at the US space agency, it is not the administration's priority to develop one more huge space telescope soon after the completion of the James Webb telescope that costs $ 8.8 billion.

"The administration's budget for NASA is a non-starter", said U.S. Sen.

Aeronautics giant Boeing now operates the station - which weighs roughly 460 tons - on behalf of NASA.

The 2019 budget proposal is dominated by space exploration, with over $10 billion allocated to deep space endeavors, including a specific emphasis to "pursue a campaign that would establish USA preeminence to, around, and on the Moon". All these things indicate that the USA government is more interested in human explorations of space rather than research and experiments on ISS.

The directive, which is based on recommendations of the recently re-activated National Space Council (NSC), will refocus NASA on its core mission, space exploration, the White House spokesman said. (Certainly these would not occur before 2024, the a year ago of a Trump presidency if he were to win a second term). The president also plans to end education programs in the space agency.

NASA also supplies the lion's share of the station's electrical power through four huge sets of solar arrays and operates the four massive gyroscopes used to maintain the station's orientation as required without using rocket thrusters.

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

A complete transfer to the commercial sector is a different matter, however.

Air travel giant Boeing and Elon Musk's SpaceX are now at work on crew capsule to send US astronauts to the space station via commercial flight, according to the Post.

The space station is scheduled to operate through 2024.

NASA has supported the ISS for more than two decades and contributes between $3 billion and $4 billion to the project yearly.

Lightfoot ended things by saying we are once again on a path to return to the Moon with an eye towards Mars. That includes a mission to the Moon's orbit by 2023. No man has returned to the moon since December 11th, 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission.

NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, called the plan "very exciting" with lots of potential, despite what he said were some hard decisions that went into it. They will boost the lab's crew back to six, joining Expedition 55 commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese physician-astronaut Norishige Kanai.

The WFIRST telescope's cost estimates have ballooned to $3.6 billion and Hunter said it just got too expensive.

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