Trump administration wants to pull funding for the International Space Station

27 January, 2018, 20:28 | Author: Carmen Reese
  • NASA astronaut in ISS conducts first spacewalk of year

A new draft of the budget shows that the Trump administration wants to cut funding for the International Space Station by 2025.

The official budget proposal will be released February 12, delayed from February 5 due to the three-day government shutdown earlier this month. Then Congress would have to approve the budget proposal.

NASA spends about $4 billion annually to support the International Space Station and its astronauts living there, and the agency spent almost $100 billion over more than a decade to construct the station.

Under President Obama's administration, Congress approved funding for the space station until 2024.

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Astronauts Scott Tingle and Mark Vande Hei, crewmembers of the Expedition 54 aboard the International Space Station (ISS), spent about 6.5 hours outside the space station. The administration also seeks to establish a space station, called Deep Space Gateway, in the vicinity of the moon. The Verge said an intention to cancel funding could signal to worldwide partners the United States isn't interested in the program's continuation - and many of those partners haven't yet decided if they'll keep working on the effort after 2024. In that time Nasa will have to figure out a way to transition to a fully commercial hub in orbit or turn to the commercial sector full time to maintain a hub in space to continue its research. So the White House has come up with a way to stretch the space agency's budget further: Forwarding the bills for the International Space Station to, like, anyone else.

The ISS has been used by both government and commercial agencies in the two decades it's been operational, and is jointly managed by Canadian, European, Russian, Japanese and United States space agencies to test out things like the microgravity environment.

If Nasa does not contribute to the ISS - a collaborative effort with Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe - it may leave American astronauts with no ability to conduct research in space. This cut could hurt NASA's program once again. It was hoping to be able to hitch a ride with commercial space corporations, but had to purchase more Soyuz flights for 2018 and 2019 after SpaceX and Boeing lagged in becoming certified. Pulling government funding for the ISS by 2025 could limit the value of these commercial crew vehicles, which have been optimized for ISS launches.

Cutting the funding NASA sends to maintain the ISS does free up some funds, but it could be harmful in the short run if those funds make technology that has nowhere to be tested.



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