"It is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform".
Washington is preparing to end the financing of the ISS through NASA after 2024. In other words, to transition to some sort of a public-private partnership.The document says NASA will expand global and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to "ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit". The document says "increasing investments" above that $150 million will be included in future years' budget requests.
"NASA will expand worldwide and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit", the document says.
However, the plans for privatising the ISS are likely to face heavy opposition, considering that the U.S. has already spent around $100 billion to build and operate it. While there are a number of hurdles to this, it could essentially mean the ISS would go from a publicly funded research station to a privately owned condo or resort. The document states that they want to encourage "the emergence of an environment in [low Earth orbit] where NASA is one of the many customers of a non-governmental human space flight managed and operated enterprise while providing a smooth and uninterrupted transition".
Another barrier to sale is the ISS's worldwide partners. Russian Federation in particular has expressed an interest in developing its own space station after the ISS, potentially using some of the modules the country's space agency, Roscosmos, plans to add to its segment of the station in the next few years.
Boeing now operates the station for NASA, which costs $3 to $4 billion annually.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, also opposed the idea of the federal government no longer providing funding for the ISS.
The station was built between 1998 and 2011 and has been visited by 230 individuals from 18 countries, space.com said. "We have invested massively in the ISS".
The space station is a joint effort between several space agencies from around the world..
When asked about the possibility of a public-partnership, he said, "I think all of us are open to reasonable proposals that are cost effective and that are utilizing the investments we made in a way that maximize their effectiveness".
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