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

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

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

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed turning over to private businesses U.S. operations on the International Space Station, which is now run jointly by the U.S. and Russian governments. According to an internal NASA document acquired by The Washington Post, the ISS could transition from being used by the US government to becoming a privately-operated real estate venture.

The station's first component was launched in 1998, and construction continued until the end of the USA space shuttle programme in 2011.

These lunar investments include building a "power and propulsion space tug" (whose cost and details remain unclear), a fleet of robotic moon rovers and landers, and a new technology program to engineer cheaper ways to get to the moon, and beyond. The $19.9 billion budget has recommended the elimination of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope. Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA who now runs Axiom Space in Houston and aims to establish the world's first commercial space station cautioned that the US government needs to have a direct hand in the International Space Station until it comes down.

Wörner sees a continuing demand for research in Earth orbit and predicted: "We will need experiments under conditions of weightlessness in low earth orbit beyond 2024".

Next up for the Russians is the return of three station crew members aboard the Soyuz MS-06/52S spacecraft February 27, bringing outgoing station commander Alexander Misurkin and two NASA astronauts, Mark Vande Hei and Joseph Acaba, back to a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan to close out a 166-day stay in space.

The reason the Trump administration is taking a go-slow approach to the return to the moon is that it is unwilling to increase NASA's budget in any way for the foreseeable future.

"The administration's budget for NASA is a non-starter", said U.S. Sen. So even if Trump is elected to a second term in 2020, astronauts won't actually visit the lunar surface until a new president has taken office.

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The NASA document indicates the administration "will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry" as it hammers out a fuller plan.

Frank Slazer, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, said the plan also could prove sticky with the station's global partners.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, was open to the proposal, but said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private-sector transition.

Private businesses already have a hand in the space station project.

NASA's acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, called the plan "very exciting" with lots of potential, despite what he said were some hard decisions that went into it.

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.

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