Thursday, January 25, 2018

White House Getting Pushback on Plans to Wind Down International Space Station by 2025

          By Henry Stewart

One of the problems with specializing on building components for the space program of other nations is that sometimes those international plans of co-operation don't turn out quite as intended.

As outlined in the  January 25th, 2018 Geekwire post, "White House gets pushback on plan to phase out space station funding by 2025," US president Donald Trump's plan to either decommission, defund or sell the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025, in order to free up money for a proposed Deep Space Gateway (DSG) in lunar orbit, is generating opposition from those who'd like to keep the ISS operational and the US government funding to continue.

The article quoted US Senator Bill Nelson, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee as stating that any ISS operational wind down after 2024, "would likely decimate Florida’s blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress has directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that."

As outlined in the January 25th, 2018 Wall Street Journal post, "Trump’s NASA Budget: More Moon, Less Space Station," the White House’s draft spending proposal for fiscal year 2019 calls for ending direct funding for space station operations by 2025 and transitioning to commercial provision of spaceflight capabilities in low Earth orbit.

Canada, as often outlined often in this blog, is deeply committed to the concept of the DSG and hopes to contribute components to the proposed space station, but can only sit back and wait for the situation to resolve itself.

As outlined in the Geekwire post:
So far, the space station partners have committed to keeping the station funded only through 2024, but as Nelson said, the door is still open for an extension to 2028. 
A variety of commercial space ventures have been pushing for greater clarity about NASA’s plans so they know what’s likely to get funded during a given time frame.
No matter how that clarity shakes out over the next little while, it's quite likely that there will be those who are uncomfortable with the outcome.

Then the real political horsetrading will begin. It's an arena where Canada likely won't have much of a voice.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

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