NASA budget proposal plans of NASA funding of ISS, seeks commercial transition

The rocket will arrive at the International Space Station at 12:24pm

The rocket will arrive at the International Space Station at 12:24pm

The administration's plan comes after a week of rumors that it might end stop directing resources toward the 20-year-old laboratory, which NASA launched in partnership with space agencies from other countries. 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 document says "increasing investments" above that $150 million will be included in future years' budget requests. "NASA will expand global and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit".

The US has already spent almost $100 billion on building and operating the ISS, which has some members of government a little uneasy about claims of selling it off to the highest bidder.

The internal NASA document has scant details over how the privatization of the station would work.

"It is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform", the document continues.

Another barrier to sale is the ISS's global partners.

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As the Post notes, the station is no stranger to private industry; Boeing now operates it at a cost of $3 to $4 billion a year.

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. Ted Cruz (R-TX), per the Post, got pretty animated last week when he was discussing talk of such a proposal at the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Conference. "It has produced enormous benefits to the United States and the world, and we should use that asset as long as it is technologically feasible and cost-effective to do so", Cruz said in a February 7 speech at the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Conference here. "We have invested massively in the ISS".

Astronaut Mark Kelly, who visited the space station four times between 2001 and 2011, said in a New York Times opinion piece that cutting funding to the floating lab would be a mistake.

"I think all of us are open to reasonable proposals that are cost-effective and that are utilizing the investments we've made in a way that maximizes their effectiveness", he said.

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