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USA govt plans to privatize International Space Station

15 February 2018

His company's plan is to attach its own compartments to the existing International Space Station and, once the decision is made to dismantle the complex, detach its segment and continue orbiting on its own.

The plan to privatize the station is likely to run into a wall of opposition, especially since the United States has spent almost $100 billion to build and operate it. The end of the shuttle program prompted NASA to turn over the business of supplying the station to private firms.

Washington has long made clear that it wishes to see the ISS become more commercial.

Privatizing the ISS a wasteful idea. "There are people, knowledgable about the station, who think there could be some form of profit-making operation using some portion of the facility". 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. A smaller Bigelow inflatable is now attached to the lab as a test article.

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The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, was open to the proposal, but said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private-sector transition. The Trump administration instead envisions "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 the enterprise while providing a smooth and uninterrupted transition".

The ISS also serves to reinforce NASA leadership on the high frontier, which the Trump administration says it wants to encourage and extend.

It was an historic day here in Huntsville as the Marshall Space Flight Center hosted the State of NASA Address. Assembly began in 1998 and the station has been continuously staffed by rotating astronaut-cosmonaut crews since October 2000.

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

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U.S. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also has voiced doubts about the proposal. "We have invested massively in the ISS". All these things indicate that the United States government is more interested in human explorations of space rather than research and experiments on ISS.

But private companies have made it clear that they are not yet prepared to be fully involved with the station by the time USA funding ends in 2024, and are wary of accepting the risks of fully supporting the station without the government support.

Plus, it's up to Congress to pass a budget, not the president.

The Trump administration recognizes the benefits of global cooperation in space, the document says, and is willing to expand collaboration with US allies "while working with a broader range of partners at all levels of capability".

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USA govt plans to privatize International Space Station