The administration of the President of the United States Donald trump is going to sign a decree on the termination of the support program of the International space station by 2025. About it reports the portal the Verge, familiar with the preliminary documents of the project of the state budget. The publication notes that if the station closed, American astronauts may have to remain without space for years to come, unless, of course, space Agency NASA does not come up by this time and will not develop a new spacecraft for the implementation of the plans for deep space exploration.
To its final form before introduction into the chamber of the US Congress on 12 February the draft budget may be several times changed, however, two unnamed sources close to the case confirmed to The Verge that this Directive will be presented in the final proposal. Aerospace Agency NASA say they will not comment on this information, until we see the final document.
“Space Agency NASA and its partnership on the International space station project are entirely focused on scientific and technological research aboard the orbital laboratory, as is the basis for the further advancement of humanity into space”, — said the representative of NASA in conversation with journalists The Verge.
“We will not comment on rumors and talk about not yet introduced to the discussion documents on the future budget. They are going to present only on 12 February.”
The publication notes that any made by the administration trump will be the subject of careful study by Congress before its adoption. But even the rumors about its intention to stop funding the ISS can become for international partners, NASA is a signal that the US no longer interested in continuing to support this program. In turn, many of those partners themselves have not yet decided whether they will work at the station after 2024.
The project ISS maintained over here already more than two decades. For NASA (not to mention other countries-participants) each year of service station costs about 3-4 billion dollars. In General, the us government has invested in the ISS for more than 87 billion dollars. ISS is the main platform for both government and commercial experiments in microgravity. The station conducts research aimed at understanding and solving problems related to the long presence in space – critical research that will be needed to implement plans for the conquest of deep space.
Previously, NASA has promised to maintain financial support of the International space station until 2024. But it was done under the former administration 44 U.S. President Barack Obama. After his departure from the post of the head of state question about the station Podvis in the air. What’s next?
Congress has openly started a discussion about the future of the ISS after it discontinued funding for its programs, but any concrete conclusions this discussion has not yet yielded. Many parties in the commercial sector and would like to NASA again extended the program, now until 2028, when it will come to an end with a calculated life time of the plant operation. This would give the Agency time to figure out how to transfer the ISS to full commercial use, and private companies to launch to the ISS a new commercial module. Media reported that by 2024 this would be simply impossible.
The decree directed by the President trump last year the space Agency asked him to think about how to bring the ISS under NASA funding. The consideration of this issue was planned for 1 December 2017, but NASA has not yet provided any public information about what has led to these hearings.
The government, in turn, also would be not against to bring the International space station from the jurisdiction and funding of NASA, thereby directing the released funds to develop spacecraft and technologies that will be needed for future deep space exploration.
Currently, NASA is completing work on a new launch vehicle Space Launch System, as well as manned spacecraft Orion (both projects are the contractors of the space Agency) will be able to deliver astronauts beyond low-earth orbit. However, the US President expressed the desire to send astronauts to the moon, so the space Agency will need more available resources for the implementation of this plan. Back to the moon and later to install a permanent settlement will require the development of a new lander, the home and the new technologies that will allow the colonists to not only stay alive, but and productive activities for the development of the colony. Meanwhile, a very scanty budget of the space Agency clearly does not meet your needs, notes the Verge. Therefore, the refusal to support the ISS will potentially release several billion dollars to develop all of these necessary technologies.
However, the too early abandonment of the ISS without available alternatives can create a long break in activity in earth orbit. The same has happened in 2011, when it was closed the space Shuttle program. Then the Obama administration canceled NASA initiative, the program “Constellation”, one of whose main objectives was a return to the moon. It did leave us space Agency and its astronauts, without access to space. The government decided to rely on private companies, so that they began to send astronauts into orbit. The initiative resulted in the programme “Commercial manned space flight”, which was attended by two companies – SpaceX and Boeing. Both led to the development of manned spacecraft, which was planned to deliver astronauts to the ISS. But after nearly seven years since the closure of the space Shuttle program, private contractors NASA is still not ready to send people into space and most likely still will not be ready in the next two years. This, in turn, forcing NASA to rely on Russian spacecraft.
Commercial partners like SpaceX, NASA is only ready to deliver on a regular basis cargo to the ISS, not people
The loss of the ISS would be a great loss for the commercial space industry that relies on access to the stations to conduct new experiments and test new technologies. Satellite operators have repeatedly launched small satellites from the ISS. At the same time, the conditions of microgravity on Board the space station allow private firms to inspect the equipment in readiness to work in space. For example, the company Bigelow Aerospace, involved in the development of an inflatable modular space homes, for almost two years, is testing one of their prototypes at the station. In addition, NASA uses the station to study the effects of long exposure to microgravity on the human body. This information is critical, especially when you consider that humanity is soon going to travel to Mars.
In addition, while the program is “Commercial manned launches” is now virtually idle. A recent government analysis showed that neither SpaceX nor Boeing will not be able to undergo the necessary certification for access to manned launches to the ISS until at least the end of 2019 – beginning of 2020, that actually leaves them just 5 years to provide regular flights to the station.
In addition to its scientific and commercial use, the ISS plays the role of a cornerstone in the international cooperation. NASA is working with the Russian space Agency Roscosmos and also collaborates with Canadian, European and Japanese space agencies.