A new draft of the budget shows that the Trump administration wants to cut funding for the International Space Station by 2025. This could be detrimental for NASA, which would cause it to have no destination for space travel.
The official budget request is set to be released on Feb. 12.
International Space Station Funding
Details of the budget haven't been finalized, but there are reports that indicate that this change will be included in the final budget.
"Ending direct federal government support of the ISS by 2025 and transitioning to commercial provision of low Earth orbit (LEO) capabilities," says a leaked copy of the budget.
Currently, the United States is committed to providing $3 to $4 billion toward the ISS until the year 2024. This could also cause other countries to send their own space programs to different locations. The ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned by 2028, when it will become nonoperational due to thermal and mechanical stress that it accumulated over its lifetime.
This could free up some of NASA's budget, with some going to the proposed Moon mission touted by President Trump.
President Trump indicated that the administration has big plans for NASA. This includes a new trip to the Moon for an eventual manned flight to Mars. This cut could hurt NASA's program once again. It would make it harder for the space program to send astronauts to space.
A similar situation happened in 2011, when the Obama administration made cuts that terminated its Space Shuttle program. This left NASA without a way to send astronauts to space.
To compensate for the lack of space shuttles, the plan was to get private companies involved. SpaceX and Boeing would work on technologies that could get astronauts into space. It has been seven years, and they're close but still haven't been able to take people there.
NASA has been using Russian vehicles since.
Ending funding would be detrimental to NASA, which uses the station to test new technology and train astronauts. This would also hurt the commercial side of spaceflight. Companies need to have a place to test new technology as well.
President Trump signed a Space Policy Directive in late 2017 that focuses on NASA getting back to the Moon and eventually Mars and beyond. Humans haven't been outside of low-Earth orbit in 45 years since the Apollo 17 mission. The only problem would be how this project would be funded.
Cutting the funding NASA sends to maintain the ISS does free up some funds, but it could be harmful in the short run if those funds make technology that has nowhere to be tested.