A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the Progress 69 cargo ship stands atop its launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit RSC Energia
To support and facilitate a transition to a commercially-focused platform in the mid 2020s, one in which NASA could be one of several users, "the administration is proposing to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 under the current NASA-directed operating model".
The goal of that effort would be to have commercial facilities in operation by the time NASA funding for the ISS ends in 2025, with NASA potentially being a customer of those facilities to support its research needs, such as for exploration beyond Earth orbit. "We look forward to working together with the Administration and Congress to preserve American leadership in space with the resources to match".
Altogether, the administration's proposed budget, along with an addendum, seeks to increase NASA's budget slightly to $19.9 billion. Last week, the administration chose to ask for another $300 million, bringing the total to $19.9 billion, NASA chief financial officer Andrew Hunter said.
The future of the ISS is up for discussion between the project's partners.
More:NASA's new guardian of the galaxy? Nor is it certain how the agency would spend the $150 million for commercial development that was suggested in the budget proposal. "We have a lot of work to do".
Less clear is how such a plan would be coordinated with the station's worldwide partners.
Private companies have made it clear that they are not yet prepared to be fully involved with the station by the time US funding ends in 2024. So the White House's proposal is more a statement of priorities - and not everyone is happy with it.
A report on the tech website The Verge said a draft of the budget proposal anticipated ending funding for the space station after 2024, which the Post report followed up with news that the administration was looking to keep the ISS operational, but not on its dime or under its authority.
President Barack Obama continued the transition to hire Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the station.
"It's imperative, it's critical", Bigelow Aerospace founder and President Robert Bigelow told FOX Business, regarding the White House's budget request. These commercial flights will represent the first astronaut launches from US soil since NASA's shuttles stopped flying.
It was not clear if NASA envisions partners taking over some or all of the ISS, or if the football field-length research complex would be dropped from orbit and replaced by commercial stations.
A view of the International Space Station's power-generating solar arrays taken by an astronaut in January 2017. NASA pays for launch costs and astronauts' time to run the experiments.
On the science side, the budget continues support for high-profile planetary missions, such as the life-hunting 2020 Mars rover and Europa Clipper, which will investigate the habitability of Jupiter's ocean-harboring moon Europa. Both nations are required for the space station to function with any degree of safety using separate flight control centers. According to an internal NASA document acquired byThe Washington Post, the ISS could transition from being used by the US government to becoming a privately-operated real estate venture. There's only two crew missions a year.
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