The release of the latest budget proposal by the Trump administration on Feb. 11 include plans to end U.S. funding and involvement in the International Space Station.
The nation also wants to sell its share of the space laboratory by 2025.
The proposal was not well met, with everyone from astronauts to the layman, expressing dismay over the fate planned for the ISS and agreeing to the fact that mankind's only permanent outpost needs to be protected.
Former astronaut Mark Kelly said that cutting government funding for the ISS would be like taking a step backward for NASA and is not in the best interest of the United States of America.
Privatization Of The International Space Station
Though what will actually happen to the space station after 2025 is still not clearly defined, according to former astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, it has a lot of potential uses.
"Other partners could continue scientific investigations. Private enterprise could turn it into a space hotel," Hoffman said. "However, I don't know how any of these schemes would provide the resources to keep the station going.
The idea of privatizing the space station is barely worth a mention according to former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao.
"The ISS was designed to operate with two big mission control centers, in Houston and Moscow. They each need standing armies of onsite engineers and technicians around the clock to monitor and send commands to the station," Chiao wrote in an opinionated editorial.
Rise Of Space Hotels
Space tourism is not a new idea, and aerospace company SpaceX and spaceflight company Virgin Galactic are working toward goals of sending civilians skyward with regular spaceflights. Recently, aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin also announced its space tourism ambitions for the future.
The real deal, however, seems to be the concept of private space hotels that are going to utilize the space station, thereby keeping the legacy of the ISS alive and also carve the path forward to the launch of private space stations.
The Russian space agency, ROSCOSMOS, might help space tourism agents to offer five-star living accommodations in space. Space contractor RKK Energia from Russia has already proposed the construction of space luxury resort using ISS-related hardware. The resort itself will be built in a new module that does not have to be a part of the ISS.
In the United States, Bigelow Aerospace CEO Robert Bigelow wants to build space hotels that do not involve the ISS. He announced the formation of a new company called Bigelow Space Operations earlier this week, which will construct private space stations that have more than 2.4 times the pressurized volume of the ISS. In addition to attracting space tourists, BSO also wants to catch the attention of the same nations that fund the ISS today after it is de-orbited.
With the recent announcements of privately funded space hotels, it remains to be seen whether stopping the government funding of ISS will actually lead to long-term positive repercussions, eventually channeling out to the rise of space hotels.