Trump Administration To Privatise The International Space Station By 2025?

| February 12 , 2018 , 15:26 IST

The United States President Donald Trump administration has already slashed funding for NASA, encouraging private companies to venture into the field of outer space, a task already taken up by SpaceX, but may also discontinue funding for the ISS.

A recent NASA document obtained by The Washington Post suggests that the Trump administration is also considering privatisation of the International Space Station (ISS), by as early as 2025 by suspending the federal support to it by 2024.

"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 states.

"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," it said.

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According to its budget request that is to be released on Monday, the administration would request $150 million in the fiscal year 2019 and more in additional years "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."

However, the plans for privatising the ISS are likely to face heavy opposition, considering that the US has already spent around $100 billion to build and operate it.

"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," said Republican Senator from the state of Texas, Ted Cruz.

Another concern regarding the privatisation of the International Space Station was who would be the target market to invest in the venture.

"The ISS is built for science and human exploration, it's not built for profit-seeking," said Andrew Rush, the chief executive of Made In Space, which manufactures objects for the space station using 3-D printing.

The international agreements that the US is involved in regarding the ISS could also pose a difficulty in attempts of privatisation.