Donald Trump's plan to privatize space station 'unrealistic' - ESA chief

15 February, 2018, 07:12 | Author: Irene Delgado
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U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed turning over to private businesses U.S. operations on the International Space Station, which is now run jointly by the U.S. and Russian governments.

"This budget proposes for NASA to ramp up efforts to transition low-Earth activities to the commercial sector, and end direct federal government support of the ISS in 2025 and begin relying on commercial partners for our low-Earth orbit research and technology demonstration requirements", Lightfoot said.

Private businesses are already involved in several space projects.

The ISS could theoretically survive beyond 2025, if someone else picks up the tab; the budget request does not mention de-orbiting the $100 billion station when the government money runs out.

Overall, NASA would receive a slight top-line funding increase next year, from $19.5 billion to $19.9 billion.

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 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, a company that uses 3-D printing to manufacture objects on the space station.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three tons of cargo and supplies for the International Space Station has successfully launched after a last-minute abort on Sunday.

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Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who flew to space in 1986, "The administration's budget for NASA is a nonstarter". Frank Slazar, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, pointed out to the Post that the worldwide agreements the U.S. signed regarding the creation of the ISS would render making it a commercial outpost tricky.

The Trump administration is serious about sending robots and spacecraft back to the moon - although no NASA astronaut will set foot on the chalky lunar surface until after President Trump leaves office. Even so, if the station were to be turned over to private companies and maintained beyond 2024, Russia's space hotel could still stand a chance.

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 Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, was open to the proposal, but said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private-sector transition.

Lightfoot ended things by saying we are once again on a path to return to the Moon with an eye towards Mars.

According to the Washington Post report, the Trump administration wants to extend the public-private partnership one step further to encourage "the emergence of an environment in [low-Earth orbit] where NASA is one of many customers of a non-governmental human space flight managed and operated enterprise, while providing a smooth and uninterrupted transition".

The WFIRST telescope's cost estimates have ballooned to $3.6 billion and Hunter said it just got too expensive.


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