Donald Trump's plan to privatize space station 'unrealistic' - ESA chief

The 2019 budget proposal is dominated by space exploration, with over $10 billion allocated to deep space endeavors, including a specific emphasis to "pursue a campaign that would establish US preeminence to, around, and on the Moon".

And for the second straight year, the Trump administration proposes killing five missions that study Earth, especially its climate and the effects of carbon dioxide.

The proposal envisions a future for the station in low-Earth orbit, where NASA is "one of many customers of a non-governmental human space flight managed and operated enterprise" at the ISS.

But any transition to a more private-sector operation using any part of the International Space Station would be hard given the lab's design. For fiscal year 2017, NASA's budget for the space station was $1.45 billion. "Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we're pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense".

Other companies, such as NanoRacks, which creates hardware and services, already has its products on the Space Station.

Commercial space advocates welcomed the Trump administration's goal, but even they worry the private sector may not be ready as soon as 2025 to replace NASA as primary underwriter for station operations.

NASA also supplies the lion's share of the station's electrical power through four huge sets of solar arrays and operates the four massive gyroscopes used to maintain the station's orientation as required without using rocket thrusters.

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President Barack Obama continued the transition to hire Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the station. NASA is in charge of USA science and technology that has to do with airplanes or space.

NASA has supported the ISS for more than two decades and contributes between $3 billion and $4 billion to the project yearly.

"The total operation of the space station is simply too expensive", said Jan Wörner.

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".

When that mission launches, it will be the first human mission to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

The American leader stressed out that this time, the mission on the moon will not only follow the installation of the U.S. flag and to just leave traces on the lunar ground, but also to establish "the main base for a possible journey to Mars". "NASA is called to refocus existing activities towards exploration, by redirecting funding to innovative new programmes and support for new public-private initiatives", acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement.

Donald Trump has asked the NASA to step up its efforts on human crew missions to deep space, a priority that brings together elected officials from both sides. The mission's estimated cost is somewhere between $3.2 and $3.9 billion.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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