To be able to follow its own direction toward a lunar space exploration and a future mission to Mars, the government is looking to free up $4 billion funding from the ISS, but how will this crucial move impact the ISS and space exploration?
Space Station Experiments
The habitable satellite is out there to perform important experiments for the sake of mankind and space science. ISS was designed as a research laboratory, observatory, and manufacturing hub in low-orbit Earth.
International astronauts have used the space station for experiments with potential applications on Earth. Some studies conducted on low-Earth orbit, for instance, aim to help improve human health and produce better medicines.
"In space, you can grow larger and larger cancer tumors spherical in shape, so you have a better model of what's happening in the human body," said Luis Zea, from Bioserve Space Technologies. "The chances of having false negatives or false positives is decreased."
Experiments at the orbiting lab can also pave way for better technology and better crop production. If the United States withdraws from the orbiting laboratory, it may place a number of these research in jeopardy.
Effect On Space Exploration Plans
The ISS also happens to be the best site for scientists to learn how humans may survive prolonged space travel. Results from ISS experiments will help determine the strategy of future long-duration missions beyond low Earth orbit to make manned Mars mission a reality. Cutting the funding may impact the feasibility of these space missions.
Loss For Commercial Space Industry
When NASA built the orbital outpost more than two decades ago, it did not envision it to become a real commercial hub. Nevertheless, the space station has launched and boosted an entire space enterprise for cargo and crew delivery services into low-orbit Earth.
Privates space transport and aerospace companies such as SpaceX, Northrop Grumman, among others, were founded to provide payload mission demands of the ISS. Losing the ISS could be a major loss to these players of the commercial space industry.
NASA spent over a decade and nearly $100 billion to develop the space station with international partners from Canada, Japan, Russia, and the eleven member states of the European Space Agency.
A budget cut could send a signal to ISS-participating countries that the United States is no longer interested in pursuing the program.
In the aftermath, this could push NASA's longtime partner space agencies to direct their own space programs elsewhere even before the space station's projected termination in 2028.