President Trump's proposed budget wants NASA out of the ISS

15 Febrero, 2018, 05:08 | Author: Enrique Watson
  • Sergey Savostyanov  TASS

Under President Donald Trump's 2019 proposed budget released Monday, U.S. government funding for the space station would end by 2025.

In other words, to transition to some sort of a public-private partnership.The document says NASA will expand global and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to "ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit".

The space agency next year would invest $150 million as an initial investment in commercial capabilities that by 2025 would provide a "seamless transition" from NASA's existing ISS program.

The potential is there for private companies to capitalize on a chance to control the ISS and the low Earth orbit it resides in.

The Soyuz 2-1a booster carrying the Progress MS-08/69P cargo craft took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:13 a.m. EST (GMT-5; 2:13 p.m. local time), streaking away through a cold, overcast sky and climbing directly into the plane of the space station's orbit.

It also calls for $10.5bn for "an innovative and sustainable campaign of exploration" leading to "the return of humans to the moon for long-term exploration and utilization followed by human missions to Mars and other destinations", according to a Nasa review.

The 2019 NASA budget would be $19.9 billion, but it would drop down to $19.6 billion for the next several years. Last week, the administration chose to ask for another $300 million, bringing the total to $19.9 billion, NASA chief financial officer Andrew Hunter said. However, Cruz left open the door to keeping the ISS operating after 2024 as a public-private partnership of some kind.

More: NASA's new guardian of the galaxy? "We have a lot of work to do". The transition draft says NASA will continue to consult with its global partners "to ensure consensus".

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Elon Musk's SpaceX company and Orbital ATK have been delivering to the station since 2012. And there may be some changes coming, if the reaction of U.S. Sen. But he's said he not convinced the industry could bear the financial burden of maintaining the space station by the mid-2020s.

Mr Lightfoot said that the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft are critical backbone elements for moving farther into deep space.

But pulling NASA funding would likely still have an effect on the space station's future.

Many in the space arena have already expressed concern.

Less clear is how such a plan would be coordinated with the station's worldwide partners. NASA pays for launch costs and astronauts' time to run the experiments. More money would be allocated to space exploration and planetary science. Drug companies like Merck and Eli Lilly have used the space station to research medications.

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. President Barack Obama extended that model to hire Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts there.

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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