The proposed plan of the Trump administration to hand over the International Space Station to the private sector by 2025 will probably not happen, according to a NASA inspector general.
The NASA official made that claim in front of Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Democrat Senator Bill Nelson, who shared the sentiment that the U.S. government should continue funding the ISS beyond 2025.
Should The ISS Be Privatized?
In January, the Trump administration revealed its desire to cut the U.S. government's International Space Station funding by 2025. A month later, the proposal shifted to ISS privatization, with the administration said to be working on a transition plan that will turn the ISS over to the private sector after 2025. If this pushes through, it may provide a significant boost to the growth of the space tourism industry.
The reason behind the plan to cut ISS funding is to free up some of the budget allocated for NASA. President Trump previously said that he wanted NASA to send astronauts back to the moon, followed by a mission to fly humans to Mars.
ISS Privatization Will Likely Not Happen By 2025
The U.S. government, through NASA, is currently spending $3 billion to $4 billion a year to maintain the operations of the International Space Station. The Trump administration wants to move that cost to private companies by 2025, a plan that will likely not materialize, according to NASA inspector general Paul Martin.
In his statement that was delivered to Senators Cruz and Nelson during a hearing of the Senate's Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, Martin expressed doubt that private companies will be interested in using the ISS for their respective businesses.
"Candidly, the scant commercial interest shown in the station over its nearly 20 years of operation gives us pause about the agency's current plan," Martin said in his statement.
According to Martin, the industries that may benefit from running the ISS, including space tourism and space research, have not yet panned out. In addition, handing over the ISS to private companies might not save NASA that much money, as the agency will still need to send astronauts and cargo to the space station.
Martin cited the obvious alternative, which is for the U.S. government to continue funding the ISS beyond 2025. Boeing, which built most of the International Space Station, said that it will be able to last up to 2028 without any required major maintenance.
Martin's views echoes the many criticisms against the proposal for International Space Station privatization. The question now is whether President Donald Trump will listen and roll back the plan to privatize the ISS by 2025.