WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Trump administration wants to turn NASA over to the private sector as funding for the International Space Station ends by 2025, the Washington Post reports.
- The 2019 proposed budget released Monday shows the government would set aside $150 million for commercial development and use future savings to aim for the moon.
- President Donald Trump suggests turning huge amount of money from “the space station, satellites observing the Earth and a major space telescope toward a multi-year $10.4 billion exploration plan aimed at returning astronauts to the moon in about five or six years.”
Democrat Senator Bill Nelson of Florida Democrat who flew in space in 1986, said “turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space” makes no sense.
Roger Launius, a retired NASA historian and Smithsonian curator, said that the move will affect all the other countries involved in the space station. Russia is chiefly involved, as is Europe, Canada, and Japan.
NASA has spent close to $100 billion on the orbiting outpost since the 1990s. The first piece was launched in 1998, and the complex was essentially completed with the retirement of NASA’s space shuttles in 2011.
Andrew Hunter, NASA’s acting chief financial officer said: “We’re building capability for the eventual human exploration of deep space and the moon is a stepping stone.”
Trump’s budget proposal shows the administration’s priorities. The same budget proposal aims to discontinue funding for WFIRST, a space telescope mission that according to NASA is “designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics.”
Since Trump became president, the administration proposes stopping five missions that study Earth, the climate and the effects of carbon dioxide. Trump also plans to stop NASA’s education programs.
NASA turns oversupply runs to the private sector at the end of the shuttle program. Since 2012, SpaceX and Orbital ATK have been making their deliveries. Sierra Nevada Corp. will start making deliveries with its crew-less mini shuttles in the following years.
SpaceX and Boeing are developing crew capsules to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station within 2019. These flights will represent the first astronaut launches from U.S. soil since NASA’s shuttles stopped flying.
In total, the administration’s proposed budget seeks to increase NASA’s budget slightly to $19.9 billion.
Source: The Washington Post