The NASA budget proposal for the fiscal year 2019 allegedly plans to end funding for the ISS.

While the official NASA budget proposal document is yet to be released today, reports over the weekend claim that it includes plans by the American government to stop funding for the International Space Station by 2025. According to an article published by The New York Times, the Trump administration is looking into the privatization of the station after 2024.

Read More: NASA begins Planning for Interstellar Missions

To date, the ISS, a low-Earth orbiting space station launched in 1998, is scheduled to operate until 2024 but many expected that it would be extended, at least, until 2028. However, documents obtained by renowned media organizations suggest that the White House is already planning to stop sending direct federal support to the space laboratory.

“The 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,” the document states according to The Washington Post.

New @NASA budget proposal for the fiscal year 2019 allegedly includes plans by the U.S. government to stop funding the @Space_Station by 2025 and to privatize it.Click To Tweet

The NASA Budget Proposal and the Privatization of ISS

The NASA budget proposal, which is due to be released today, February 12th, will include a budget request amounting to $150 million USD for the fiscal year 2019. Increase in budget requests is also expected in the following years to allegedly “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.”

It is entirely unclear how the plan to privatize the International Space Station would work, but the U.S. government stated in the document that it is not in a rush to abandon the station or deorbit it.

“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.”

Should the privatization of ISS pushes through as per the NASA budget proposal plans, it is expected to receive opposition from within and outside of the United States. It should be noted that the International Space Station is a joint venture between the U.S. and other countries, including Russia, the European Partner, Japan, and Canada.

In a New York Times editorial published last week, former astronaut Mark Kelly seemed to predict the upcoming proposal. The astronaut warned about the looming possibility that the United States will lose space commerce opportunities if the plan pushes through.

“As the cost of access to low earth orbit continues to decline, more opportunities for commerce in space will emerge, with the International Space Station at the nexus and the United States at the helm,” Kelly wrote.

“But all of this will come to a screeching halt (though you won’t hear the ‘screech’ in the vacuum of space) if the Trump administration ends funding for the International Space Station program beyond 2024, a step it is considering.”

Senator Ted Cruz has already expressed his opposition about the government’s planned cancellation of ISS funding. He was quoted as saying:

“As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can Do is cancel programs after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead.” 

The document did not mention any particular company or private enterprise that might use or take over the ISS.

What do you think about the NASA budget proposal? What would private companies do in a space station designed for science, especially if they won’t have complete control over it? Do you think SpaceX would be interested?

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