The Trump administration is proposing an end to federal funding of the International Space Station, allowing private industry to assume the approximately $1.1 billion in annual costs for the orbiting laboratory.
Following a transition period, the U.S. government would end direct support of the ISS after 2024, The Washington Post reported, citing NASA documents.
“The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform,” the document read. “NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”
In 2019, the Trump administration will request $150 million “to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS — potentially including elements of the ISS — are operational when they are needed.”
The ISS travels at approximately 17,500 miles per hour at an altitude of 248 miles. The U.S. has spent nearly $100 billion to build and operate the ISS — the largest single human structure ever to exist in space — so privatizing it is expected to draw harsh criticism.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R.-Texas, said last week that he hopes that reports about ending funding for the ISS “prove as unfounded as ‘Bigfoot.’”
“As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can do is cancel programs after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead,” Cruz said.
According to Space.com, the International Space Station was constructed between 1998 and 2011 and has been visited by 230 people from 18 countries.
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) February 12, 2018
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) February 12, 2018