NASA Looking at Ways to Commercialize International Space Station

In the not-too-distant future, NASA astronauts might conduct their video interviews from the International Space Station (ISS) while wearing Nike-supplied T-shirts, with a giant Toyota logo visible on the module wall behind them.

A former NASA astronaut says it wouldn’t be so bad to transfer the space station to private management
(Mar 2018) ‘Los Angeles Times

Trump’s budget for NASA defunds the space station and includes vague plans for the Moon
(since Feb, 2018) ‘The VergeThe Trump Administration Wants to Pull Federal Funding for the International Space Station‘FortuneNASA Budgets for a Trip to the Moon, but Not While Trump Is President‘New York TimesTrump’s new NASA budget wants private companies to take the lead on space stations‘CNBC

A former NASA astronaut says it wouldn’t be so bad to transfer the space station to private management

When word got out that the Trump administration wanted to end government funding of the International Space Station by 2025, resistance to the idea was swift and forceful.

In a rare sign of just how unpopular it was, two senators from opposing parties — Democrat Bill Nelson of Florida and Republican Ted Cruz of Texas — immediately came out against the proposal, which was contained in the president’s 2019 budget blueprint.

But former NASA astronaut Sandy Magnus said that stepping away from the space station could be seen as a sign of progress toward the eventual goal of sending humans out into the solar system. By transferring management of the ISS to private industry, she said, NASA still could lease space to continue its research in low Earth orbit while focusing more of its efforts on places like the moon and Mars.

“It’s a question of, does NASA own the building or is it leasing the building?” said Magnus, who lived on the space station for 4 1/2 months in 2008 and 2009.

It’s “neither a good or a bad thing. It is the next stage in the evolution,” she added. “But we’ve got to do it well.”

ReferenceQuite a lot has been going on:

Trump’s budget for NASA defunds the space station and includes vague plans for the Moon

The Trump administration wants NASA to move away from doing business in low orbit around the Earth and instead focus on sending astronauts back to the Moon. That’s according to President Donald Trump’s new budget request, out today, which details how the White House wants to fund NASA in fiscal year 2019.

The request instructs NASA to end direct funding for the International Space Station by 2025, while pursuing a coordinated campaign to put humans on the Moon by the mid-2020s, according to a copy of the detailed budget request reviewed by The Verge. However, there aren’t a lot of details for how the Moon plans will play out, and very little funding is allocated for developing all the hardware needed for putting people on the lunar surface again.

The budget confirms previous reporting from The Verge regarding the future of the space station. However, a new internal document from NASA, reported yesterday by The Washington Post, reveals that the space agency does not intend to get rid of the ISS once government funding ends, but instead turn it into something of a commercial real estate venture. The goal is for other countries and private space companies to pick up the slack and ‘operate certain elements or capabilities’ of the ISS, so that NASA still has a platform to conduct science experiments, according to the document. ‘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 memo states.

That goal is reflected in the new presidential budget request, as well. The Trump administration wants to allocate an additional $150 million for NASA to start a new program that will help commercial companies expand their activities in lower Earth orbit ‘ where the space station resides. However, the specifics of that program and how the money will be used have yet to be defined.

The move to end direct funding for the ISS has already been met with sharp criticism from many in the space industry, as well as legislators from both political parties. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees NASA, said the administration would ‘have a fight on their hands’ if such a proposal was in the budget request. And in response to the budget’s release, Nelson doubled down on his criticism, calling the request a nonstarter. ‘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,’ Nelson said in a statement. Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), chairman of the Senate’s space subcommittee, said in a speech last week that he hoped that reports of ending funding for the ISS by 2025 ‘prove as unfounded as Bigfoot,’ according to Space News.

Reference

The Trump Administration Wants to Pull Federal Funding for the International Space Station

Rather than dismantle the International Space Station (ISS) come 2024, President Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly looking into privatizing the venture.

The administration is seeking to pull federal funding for the ISS in 2025’making way for commercial players to put the station to use. That’s according to an internal NASA memo obtained by the Washington Post.

‘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 note read.

The U.S. has spent some $100 billion building and maintaining its portion of the station thus far. But in recent years, NASA has been outsourcing more of its projects to commercial firms including Boeing and SpaceX. Boeing, for example, is expected to launch a crew to the space station this year using the CST-100 Starliner.

But if the U.S. does indeed pull federal funding from the ISS and seek commercial firms to fill in the blanks, it does stand to question: which companies would want to be involved? The ISS, after all, has largely been used for research purposes.

Reference

Watching: NASA Looking, International Space Station In, Los Angeles Times
Trump

Video

Leave a Reply