Trump's 2019 NASA Budget Request Puts Moon Ahead of Space Station

Posted February 15, 2018

The proposal included plans to end support for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025, as well the cancellation of NASA's next flagship astronomy mission, along with five Earth Science missions.

The president announced on Monday plans to end direct federal funding for the orbiting lab by 2025 and provide $150 million to begin a program to "encourage commercial development of capabilities" that NASA could use in its place. The unmanned resupply and refueling freighter will deliver three tons of cargo, propellant and water to the six crew now aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Senator Bill Nelson, who went into space in 1986, said that "turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space" made no sense.

The budget request, which was released today (Feb. 12), allocates about $19.9 billion to NASA, an increase of $370 million over last year's request.

The president proposes shifting large chunks of money from the space station, satellites studying a warming 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. Andrew Rush, chief executive of 3-D printing company Made In Space, said plainly that the ISS isn't built for profit seeking.

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And the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, which represents companies like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, said defunding the station before 2028 "would not allow sufficient time" for a private sector transition.

But pulling NASA funding would likely still have an effect on the space station's future.

Cochair of the WFIRST research team, David Spergel, who is an astrophysicist at the Princeton University, thinks that it is awful that space astronomy leadership is being abandoned, following the recommendation of the Trump administration to cut the mission.

SpaceX and Boeing, meanwhile, are developing crew capsules to fly astronauts to and from the space station within the next year.

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The NASA document notes that the station's global partners are each at a different state in planning for operations of the ISS beyond 2024.

He said the move would put the USA on course to "do something exciting" in space for the first time in years, adding that his company is "ready" to partner with NASA on its moon efforts.

A view of the International Space Station's power-generating solar arrays taken by an astronaut in January 2017.

The draft transition proposal states that a platform of some sort in low-Earth orbit is needed for medical research to learn more about the long-term medical impacts of the space environment and to develop the life support and other critical systems needed for eventual long-term stays on the moon or even longer flights to Mars.

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NASA in 2022 hopes to launch the first portion of a small station to be placed in orbit around the moon. "NASA is called to refocus existing activities towards exploration, by redirecting funding to innovative new programmes and support for new public-private initiatives", acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement.