NASA's ISS funding to end

Russian rocket to reach International Space Station in record breaking time

GETTYRussian rocket to reach International Space Station in record breaking time

Under the administration's budget proposal, released Monday, NASA would stop paying for the space station by 2025.

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.

According to United States government, the proposed $150 million will be used to create a programme to help prepare private companies or commercial entities to take over the ISS operations over the next seven years, as reported by BBC.

The idea of handing the keys to the space station over to a private company is still in the early stages, according to the Washington Post.

The US plan, the paper said, involves privatising the ISS, a low-orbit space station piloted by the US space agency NASA and developed jointly with its Russian counterpart.

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The plan to privatize the station is likely to run into a wall of opposition, especially since the United States has spent almost $100 billion to build and operate it.

Altogether, the administration's proposed budget, along with an addendum, seeks to increase NASA's budget slightly to $19.9 billion. The US government has also proposed a $150m (£108m) for ISS to encourage commercial deployment at the space station.

Bigelow Aerospace, for example, has talked about attaching a huge inflatable module to the space station that could be used by NASA or private industry. It would be dubbed the Commercial LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) Development program.

His company's plan is to attach its own compartments to the existing International Space Station and, once the decision is made to dismantle the complex, detach its segment and continue orbiting on its own.

The budget proposal calls for $10 billion to "support human space exploration and to pursue a campaign that would establish US preeminence to, around, and on the Moon".

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And the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private sector transition. The transition draft says NASA will continue to consult with its worldwide partners "to ensure consensus".

Democrat senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who was once an astronaut himself, said "turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space" made no sense.

As it prepares a transition plan, the White House said it "will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry". "It is the intent of NASA and the Administration to maintain seamless access to a human platform in LEO that meets NASA's and the Nation's goals", the document states.

NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, called the plan "very exciting" with lots of potential, despite what he said were some hard decisions that went into it. WFIRST was a mission that the National Academies of Science listed as the decade's No. 1 priority for future NASA astrophysics missions.

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