Trump proposes to privatize International Space Station in 2025

Ted Cruz

Skywatch: Week brings plenty of chances to see International Space Station

Aeronautics giant Boeing now operates the station - which weighs roughly 460 tons - on behalf of NASA.

The proposal would instead allocate millions of dollars to pursue privatization of the station and returning American astronauts to the moon, a goal that the Trump administration laid out previous year, The Washington Post reported.

Cochair of the WFIRST research team, David Spergel, who is an astrophysicist at the Princeton University, thinks that it is awful that space astronomy leadership is being abandoned, following the recommendation of the Trump administration to cut the mission.

The 2019 fiscal plan, which includes a 10-year spending blueprint, is not formal legislation, and final congressional budget measures rarely conform to presidential proposals.

The documents show an administration that is eager to put a new emphasis on human space exploration, but unwilling to spend enough to dramatically speed NASA's long-term-and long-delayed-plans to return Americans to space without leveraging growing private investment. More money would be allocated to space exploration and planetary science.

Another controversial budget proposal would cancel NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope mission, or WFIRST, which according to NASA is "designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets and infrared astrophysics". So even if Trump is elected to a second term in 2020, astronauts won't actually visit the lunar surface until a new president has taken office. (Certainly these would not occur before 2024, the a year ago of a Trump presidency if he were to win a second term). It provides no funding for the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) experiment; the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder; the Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI); or Earth-viewing instruments aboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/NASA spacecraft that launched in 2015. "NASA has got itself into a position like they had with the shuttle". And there may be some changes coming, if the reaction of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, ranking member on the committee that oversees NASA.

NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that we are once again on a path to return to the moon with an eye toward Mars.

MIT astronautics professor Dava Newman, who was the deputy NASA chief under Barack Obama, called the space station "the cornerstone of space exploration today" but said the Trump administration's proposal makes sense because it is doing long-term planning.

According to the Washington Post report, the Trump administration wants to extend the public-private partnership one step 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".

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