Money Talks: US Reportedly Wants to Privatize ISS

12 February, 2018, 17:45 | Author: Darnell Taylor
  • Sergey Savostyanov  TASS

According to a document obtained by The Washington Post, which first reported the news, the current White House does not plan to abandon the ISS, but instead is developing a "transition plan" to hand it off to the private sector.

The Trump administration is considering privatizing the International Space Station (ISS), and end funding to the orbiting international lab after 2024, a senior NASA official confirmed to Fox News.

"In support of enabling a timely development and transition of commercial capabilities in LEO where NASA could be one of many customers in the mid-2020s, the Administration is proposing to end direct Federal support for the ISS in 2025 under the current NASA-directed operating model", the document states.

The administration will reportedly ask for $150 million in the 2019 fiscal year in its budget request on Monday.

The plan to privatize the station - the largest single human structure even put in space - is expected to draw out-of-this-world criticism because the U.S. has spent almost $100 billion to build and operate it, the Washington Post said.

The NASA document notes that the station's worldwide partners are each at a different state in planning for operations of the ISS beyond 2024.

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

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"As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can to is cancel programs after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead", he said, possibly succumbing to the sunk cost fallacy.

According to the Washington Post, the USA plan involves privatizing the ISS, a low-orbit space laboratory piloted by the American space agency NASA and developed jointly with its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos.

The spacecraft, known as Progress MS-08 in Russian Federation, is carrying 3 tons of food, fuel and other supplies for the station's six-person Expedition 54 crew and was scheduled to make a superfast 3.5-hour trip to the orbiting lab after liftoff.

"It will be very hard to turn ISS into a truly commercial outpost because of the worldwide agreements that the United States is involved in".

NASA did not immediately respond to Geek's request for comment.

"It's inherently always going to be an worldwide construct that requires USA government involvement and multinational cooperation", he explained.

Mark Mulqueen, Boeing's space station programme manager, said: "Walking away from the International Space Station now would be a mistake, threatening American leadership and hurting the commercial market as well as the scientific community".

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