There was an outcry by the Congressional officials in the United States after there was a report in January in The Verge that claimed that U.S. support to the International Space Station (ISS) was being planned to be stopped by the Trump administration by 2025.
And according to a new report published in The Washington Post, an internal NASA document was viewed by the newspaper which stated that the agency intended to privatize the space station soon after funds to support it stops in 2024.
The Washington Post reports quotes the document which claims that the plan for ending government funding for the ISS would not necessarily mean that the space station would be removed from orbit of the Earth. The document, according to the news report, states that he government was planning on gathering private investments and funding for supporting the station and was seriously considering this a viable option.
The report further states that the plan of the government is to focus on creating and establishing partnerships at a commercial level in the next few years so that the ISS can be finally handed over to private funders. The document also stated that the White House “will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry.”
The funds cut off proposal for the ISS would reportedly form a part of the budget request of the NASA which would be present this week in the U.S. the reports have bene slammed by Congressional officials and have stated that private and public interest in the U.S would be impacted negatively by such a move. However, for many, this plan is just what they expect would happen to the ISs in the future – the responsibility of NASA’s refocus on embarking on missions to the Moon and Mars would ultimately be taken over by commercial interests and private entities.
In recent years, there have been debates within the U.S. about what to do with the ISS. While financial support for the ISS till 2024 had been confirmed by the Obama administration in 2014, the fate of the space station after 2024 is not yet clear. Last year, at the U.S. House Subcommittee on Space hearing, the issue of privatization as one of the options for the future management of the ISS was discussed. Those propounding privatization, claimed that the continued operations of the space statin would be ensured with a smooth transition from government finding and control to private funding.
There are however industry officials who are of the view that it would be wiser to continue with government funding of the ISS till 2028. They claim that the private space exploration industry is perhaps not completely ready to assume the control of the space station even though regular flights to the station for resupply missions are being carried out by private entities like Orbital ATK and SpaceX.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)