NASA is putting together a coalition of private companies that can run the International Space Station as a commercial space lab, The Washington Post reports.
The Trump administration plans on ending direct government funding of the ISS by 2025, according to documents uncovered in February. The federal government spends about $3 billion to $4 billion a year to operate the ISS and has sunk about $100 billion into the station, so far. (RELATED: REPORT: Trump Wants To Defund The International Space Station)
“We’re in a position now where there are people out there that can do commercial management of the International Space Station,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told WaPo. “I’ve talked to many large corporations that are interested in getting involved in that through a consortium, if you will.”
Bridenstine began leading the agency in April after he was confirmed and sworn into office.
The U.S. runs the ISS in partnership with Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency, making a complete change in management to the private sector difficult.
“It will be very hard to turn ISS into a truly commercial outpost because of the international agreements that the United States is involved in,” Bridenstine told WaPo. “It’s inherently always going to be an international construct that requires U.S. government involvement and multinational cooperation.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has already voiced strong disapproval of the plan.
“As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can do is cancel programs after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead,” Cruz said when the proposal was first uncovered in February.
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