The International Space Station (ISS) was launched in 1998, and since then astronauts from around 18 countries have visited. Now, Donald Trump’s administration could end NASA funding for the two-decades-long effort. The Verge reported they reviewed a draft budget proposal that included plans to stop support for the ISS by 2025.
2028 is the date many people consider to be the end of the ISS’ operational lifetime, according to The Verge. Barack Obama’s administration approved an extension of the space station until at least 2024. The Verge also said many people in the commercial space industry have hoped for another extension until 2028, so NASA could transition ISS operations to the commercial sector, or companies could “establish a commercial module in lower Earth orbit” – which they might not be able to accomplish by 2024.
The Trump administration proposal doesn’t seem to give them a lot of time. The Verge pointed out the draft could be altered before the official budget request – although they spoke with “two people familiar with the matter” who said the directive would be included in the final proposal. Then Congress would have to approve the budget proposal.
— Michael L-A (@CommanderMLA) January 25, 2018
Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria tweeted the move would be a bad idea. The Verge said an intention to cancel funding could signal to international 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.
The ISS costs NASA around $3 to $4 billion a year, and some people in Congress seem to think that money would be better spent on deep space vehicles. But according to The Verge, “canceling the ISS too early without a viable replacement could lead to a gap of human activities in lower Earth orbit.”
Via The Verge