Trump administration aims to privatize International Space Station

Ted Cruz

But it does not intend to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether, and is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector, according to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post. NASA now spends about $3-4 billion per years to run it, and the government has spent around $100 billion on it total since the ISS was first launched into low-Earth orbit in 1998.

The administration will request $150 million in 2019 "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, it would not be an easy task for the Trump administration and the move is expected to face severe opposition since the country has already spent around United States dollars 100 billion to launch, operate and support the International Space Station.

The move could present a major roadblock to space exploration. "NASA will continue to consult with the partnership regarding ISS transition in order to ensure consensus and the effective implementation of the ISS Program", the agency document states.

These plans, according to the Washington Post, will, above all, face criticism in the US Congress, given that about $ 100 billion have been spent on the construction and operation of the ISS.

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GOP Sen. Ted Cruz said last week he hopes reports about the possibility of ending funding "prove as unfounded as 'Bigfoot'".

But some questioned who would want to take over the station.

Another barrier to sale is the ISS's worldwide partners. In 2014, the Obama administration supported funding for the station through 2024, and the potential transfer of the ISS to private hands would mark a significant step in the trend toward private companies engaging in space travel. The International Space System is, after all, international, and it's unlikely that America's partners in low orbit would be so enthusiastic about the USA bringing about the deconstruction of the intergalactic state.

Selling off the station wouldn't be the first time NASA has handed its responsibilities over to the private sector. "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. Russian Federation in particular has expressed an interest in developing its own space station after the ISS, potentially using some of the modules the country's space agency, Roscosmos, plans to add to its segment of the station in the next few years.

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