NASA Is Planning To Privatize International Space Station

15 February, 2018, 07:07 | Author: Becky Perry
  • NASA budget proposal plans of NASA funding of ISS, seeks commercial transition

"The administration's budget for NASA is a nonstarter".

In a statement by acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the proposed US$19 billion NASA budget for Fiscal Year 2019 emphasizes a policy shift toward exploration missions that includes a proposal to cease direct participation by the USA government in space station operations after its present commitment expires in 2025.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been given formal approval by NASA to provide cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), with an anticipated launch window for late 2020. Many in Washington aren't keen to see the end of a government-funded project like the ISS that has seen billions and billions invested. NASA spends billions every year to maintain and operate it. The station is studying whether the life of the station could be extended to 2028 or beyond, according to the Post. The agency would also transition away from government owned communications satellites, in favor of commercial satellites. Weightlessness seems to alter brain structure, switches genes on and off, impairs vision, and causes muscle atrophy.

At the same time, the International Space Station has yet to produce a dime.

The plan is to have permanent infrastructure in place around the moon by 2030.

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. There are six astronauts now aboard the ISS - two Russians, three Americans and one from Japan. Each seat costs $80 million.

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

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Is privatisation a good or a bad thing? The political backlash would be intense, to say the least.

If all goes well, the Progress will execute a traditional 34-orbit rendezvous, catching up with the space station early Thursday and docking at the aft port of the Russian Zvezda module at 5:43 a.m.

Turning the ISS over to corporations sounds drastic, but it's not really all that different from what experts expected, according to John Logsdon, a space policy expert at the George Washington University.

Last week, Senator Ted Cruz slammed the reports, claiming he hoped they would "prove as unfounded as Bigfoot" after the amount of money spent to operate the station.

From a financial standpoint, what investor would be willing to rent or buy real estate on the ISS? But NanoRacks wants to begin building commercial habitats out of the upper stages of rockets launched into orbit.

Mark Mulqueen, the space station program manager for Boeing, told the Post that pulling government funding for the station would be a "mistake". It just doesn't make sense from a return of investment perspective.



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