"Numbskulls!" --NASA: The Trump administration Wants to Privatize the International Space Station

Alan Olson
February 15, 2018

The White House will release its fiscal year 2019 budget for the space agency at 1pm ET today, and although Congress sets the budget for the United States, this document offers a good overview of the Trump administration's plans for NASA.

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".

The approach the administration has chosen is one that would end NASA funding of the ISS in 2025, while offering support for the development of commercial successors. The budget proposal calls for $10 billion to "support human space exploration and to pursue a campaign that would establish USA preeminence to, around, and on the Moon".

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. Last week, the administration made a decision 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.

But it's not clear how much NASA would do after 2025. This would cut $133 million from the budget. "We have a lot of work to do". Rumors about ending federal funding have circulated for some time, and The Washington Post reported on the plansover the weekend.

The station's first component was launched in 1998, and construction continued until the end of the USA space shuttle programme in 2011. Mr. Lightfoot had this to say about the President's new budget for NASA. So the White House's proposal is more a statement of priorities - and not everyone is happy with it.

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

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President Barack Obama continued the transition to hire Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the station. But he's said he not convinced the industry could bear the financial burden of maintaining the space station by the mid-2020s.

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

Private businesses are already involved in several space projects.

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.

Donald Trump and many of his climate-conservative supporters find that the U.S. space agency spends too much money and energy to observe and study our planet, and especially its climate, instead of doing something to explore the space. Both nations are required for the space station to function with any degree of safety using separate flight control centers. Frank Slazar, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, pointed out to the Post that the worldwide agreements the USA signed regarding the creation of the ISS would render making it a commercial outpost tricky. There's only two crew missions a year.

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

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