Trump Administration Budget Aims Lunar Exploration

Ted Cruz

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

The Trump administration wants to cut off funding to the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 - when it could hand the laboratory over to a private company.

NASA would end its participation in the International Space Station in 2025 under a Trump administration budget proposal released Monday, an idea that one influential senator immediately called a "non-starter".

The ISS could theoretically survive beyond 2025, if someone else picks up the tab; the budget request does not mention de-orbiting the $100 billion station when the government money runs out.

NASA has supported the ISS for more than two decades and contributes between $3 billion and $4 billion to the project yearly.

President Trump wants NASA to focus more on human exploration to Moon and Mars and that is why it wants the space agency to give less emphasis on ISS in the coming years. All these things indicate that the U.S. government is more interested in human explorations of space rather than research and experiments on ISS.

And the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private sector transition.

An artist's rendering of NASA's Space Launch System rocket taking flight. "We were very pleased, we thought the administration showed confidence in the USA that we can accomplish something not just for NASA but for the nation".

The space station is scheduled to operate through 2024.

And SpaceX and Boeing are each developing spacecrafts to send astronauts to and from the space station.

Putting $150 million toward commercial development for the space station would be a "great indication" the administration is confident in what the private sector can do, CSF executive director Tommy Sanford told CNN.

The space station is a joint effort between several space agencies from around the world.

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"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 paper said, citing an internal memo from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

While the Trump budget plan says it places renewed support on returning humans to the moon, followed by human expeditions to Mars and elsewhere, few details are provided.

NASA Acting Administrator, Robert Lightfoot gave the address and was nothing but optimistic and confident, starting things off by saying "American will lead the way back to the moon and take the next giant leap from where we made the first small step almost 50 years ago".

When that mission launches, it will be the first human mission to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

The WFIRST was in line after the James Webb Space Telescope, which is going to be launched in 2019, as the next big thing in astronomy mission. The budget for the mission was already being trimmed down after it was found to be getting too costly.

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