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The Trump Administration Wants to Privatize the Goddamn International Space Station

NASA image of the International Space Station (ISS) was photographed by one of the crewmembers of the STS-105 mission

Image of the International Space Station (ISS). Credit: NASA

Back in summer 2017, the Trump administration took a preliminary swing at ruining space exploration. At a signing ceremony to mark the reinstatement of the National Space Council, Trump talked about “space security,” tried to one-up Buzz Aldrin’s “infinity and beyond” joke with posturing, and emphasized the fact that “Mike [Pence] is very much into space.” I was mortified by the whole affair.

And now, they’ve laid out a long-term plan to ruin space exploration more permanently.

According to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post, the White House may turn the International Space Station (ISS) over to “industry” after it stops direct federal funding of the station in 2025. The document reportedly states: “The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time—it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform. 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.”

To that end, the administration will reportedly request $150 million for the 2019 fiscal year, in order to “enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS—potentially including elements of the ISS—are operational when they are needed.”

Of course, a number of people who spoke to the Post pointed out the flaws in this plan. Frank Slazer, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, said that the international aspect of the ISS, governed as it is by multinational treaties, makes it “very hard to turn ISS into a truly commercial outpost.” And Andrew Rush, the chief executive of Made In Space, pointed out that the ISS is “built for science and human exploration, it’s not built for profit seeking.”

But of course, in Trumplandia, it seems like everything is built for profit-seeking, and profit-seeking alone.

Adding insult to injury, this plan also forces me to agree with Ted Cruz. “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, blaming the suggestion on “numskulls” at the Office of Management and Budget. For once, Ted, I must concede.

Hopefully, this garbage plan never comes to fruition, and hopefully the United States finds the spine to invest in space exploration not for the sake of money-grubbing, but for the sake of human exploration and understanding.

(via The Washington Post; image: )

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