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Wed, Feb 14, 2018

ISS Could Become A Commercial Venture

U.S. Government Plans To Discontinue Funding By 2025

An internal NASA document shows that when the U.S. government discontinues funding for the International Space Station, it does not necessarily mean that the station will be put in mothballs until it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere.

MSN reports that the document, which was obtained by the Washington Post, states that "[t]he decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform. NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”

The Trump administration plans to request $150 in fiscal year 2019, and additional funding in subsequent years, earmarked 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.”

But there will be staunch opposition to defunding the program, which so far has cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $100 billion to build and maintain. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said that he hopes that the reports that NASA plans to abandon the station are "as unfounded as Bigfoot." He said that cancelling the program after billions have been invested and there is a long useful life ahead is "one of the dumbest things you can do."

Still, Cruz said he would be open to public-private partnerships. 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," he said.

Some in the commercial space industry told MSN that converting ISS from a research facility to one with commercial functions would be a challenging undertaking that might not be achievable.

(Image from file)

FMI: Original report

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