Trump Wants to Put the ISS in the Hands of Private Industry

Ted Cruz

International Space Station could be privatized under Trump administration plan

Rather than ditch the International Space Station when its funding through 2024 ends, the Trump administration is looking to turn it over to the private sector, the Washington Post reports.

All eyes were on the administration as President Trump unveiled his budget rollout for 2019, and there had been talk of cutting back NASA funding.

Congress has directed NASA to study the feasibility of extending space station operations, which cost about $3 billion a year, to 2028 or 2030. "Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we're pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense". The United States has already spent some Dollars 100 billion to launch, operate and support the orbital station.

The document says "increasing investments" above that $150 million will be included in future years' budget requests.

The president proposes shifting large chunks of money from the space station, satellites studying a warming Earth and a major space telescope toward a multi-year $10.4 billion exploration plan aimed at returning astronauts to the moon in about five or six years. All these things indicate that the USA government is more interested in human explorations of space rather than research and experiments on ISS.

Elon Musk's SpaceX company and Orbital ATK have been delivering to the station since 2012.

An artist's rendering of NASA's Space Launch System rocket taking flight.

Among the concerns amongst space experts about Trump's proposal are the legal liabilities an orbiting, inhabited space station could run into.


The budget also confirms the cancellation of five Earth-science missions proposed for termination past year.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who leads the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, also recently referred to supporters of exiting the ISS program as "numbskulls".

Frank Slazer, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, said the plan also could prove sticky with the station's worldwide partners.

And SpaceX and Boeing are each developing spacecrafts to send astronauts to and from the space station. According to an internal NASA document acquired by The Washington Post, the ISS could transition from being used by the US government to becoming a privately-operated real estate venture.

While the budget plan said it places renewed support on returning humans to the moon, followed by human expeditions to Mars and elsewhere, no precise timeline and few details are provided.

Now, the Trump administration wants to push that public-private partnership even 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 document said.

Hertz also added that only way to preserve the US space agency's ability to meet the established target cost and deliver the project on time is to maintain progress against the existing plan, should Congress decide against Trump's proposal to eliminate WFIRST. No man has returned to the moon since December 11th, 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission. The budget for the mission was already being trimmed down after it was found to be getting too costly.

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