The Trump administration wants to privatize the International Space Station

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

While the Trump administration intends to end funding for the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024, it's not necessarily destined to be completely abandoned - or even removed from orbit.

NASA now spends about $3 billion a year on station operations and support, maintaining the U.S. segment of the outpost, supplying spare parts and other critical cargo and buying seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry U.S., European, Canadian and Japanese astronauts to and from the outpost.

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 US preeminence to, around, and on the Moon".

If all goes according to plan, the agency will launch a "power and propulsion space tug", a component of NASA's planned outpost in near-moon space, in 2022.

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".

US President Donald Trump instructed NASA last December to come up with a plan to send American astronauts back to the Moon. Shown here: an artist's depiction of NASA's Deep Space Gateway in orbit near the moon.

The government-funded Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, which manages the lab, has selected 190 payloads since 2012, and 106 have involved a commercial research project.

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Another controversial budget proposal would cancel NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope mission, or WFIRST, a top priority in the decadal survey for astrophysics. (Certainly these would not occur before 2024, the past year of a Trump presidency if he were to win a second term).

He said the move would put the US on course to "do something exciting" in space for the first time in years, adding that his company is "ready" to partner with NASA on its moon efforts. "NASA has got itself into a position like they had with the shuttle".

The government has cited higher priorities at the USA space agency for backing the cancellation. Bill Nelson, ranking member on the committee that oversees NASA.

A report on the tech website The Verge said a draft of the budget proposal anticipated ending funding for the space station after 2024, which the Post report followed up with news that the administration was looking to keep the ISS operational, but not on its dime or under its authority.

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

MIT astronautics professor Dava Newman, who was the deputy NASA chief under Barack Obama, called the space station "the cornerstone of space exploration today" but said the Trump administration's proposal makes sense because it is doing long-term planning.

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