The Trump administration plans to end funding for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2024 and turn the orbiting laboratory over to the private sector, according to an internal Nasa document obtained by the Washington Post.
The document reportedly says that the end of US federal spending on the ISS “does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time”, adding it is possible that industry could “continue to operate certain elements or capabilities” as part of a “commercial platform.”
Fairfax Media says the plan is “likely to run into a wall of opposition” from scientists and politicians alike, considering the $ 100bn the US has already invested in the ISS.
In a New York Times editorial, former astronaut Mark Kelly wrote that cutting funding for the ISS would be a “step backward for the space agency and certainly not in the best interest of the country.”
Republican Senator Ted Cruz said he hoped that reports of the plans “prove as unfounded as Bigfoot,” adding: “One of the dumbest things you can do is cancel programs after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead.”
Nasa is currently studying the feasibility of extending the life of the ISS to 2028, and possibly beyond, with the White House urging the space agency to focus on landing on the moon again in preparation for further deep space missions.