A report says the Trump administration is planning to privatize the International Space Station (ISS).
According to The Washington Post, the U.S. government is hoping to make the Space Station a sort of real estate venture ran by private organizations.
What to do with the orbiting station has been a huge question within the U.S. government for years. In 2014, the Obama administration was able to extend support to the ISS until 2024. What happens after that is the big debate, knowing that abandoning it would be a complete waste. The U.S. has spent over $100 billion to build and operate the space station.
Now, documents acquired by the Washington Post show that the current administration is hoping to keep the ISS running by handing over the burden to the private sector.
"NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit" the document reads.
To do that, NASA is requesting a $150 million budget for fiscal year 2019 to "enable the development and maturation" of the commercial entities that will take part in the project and make sure the ISS will be fully operational until the turnover.
The question now is: Who would be willing to take on this expensive and complicated task?
"The ISS is built for science and human exploration, it's not built for profit seeking," quipped Andrew Rush, the chief executive of Made In Space. He added that passing over the burden to private sectors is not as easy as it sounds, because of the international agreements surrounding the ISS.
"It's inherently always going to be an international construct that requires U.S. government involvement and multinational cooperation," he added.
The last time this idea was brought up at the House Subcommittee in May 2017, industry officials said the commercial sector might need some time to be capable of taking such huge responsibility.