By Loren Grush
The Trump administration wants NASA to move away from doing business in low orbit around the Earth and instead focus on sending astronauts back to the Moon. That’s according to President Donald Trump’s new budget request, out today, which details how the White House wants to fund NASA in fiscal year 2019.
The request instructs NASA to end direct funding for the International Space Station by 2025, while pursuing a coordinated campaign to put humans on the Moon by the mid-2020s, according to a copy of the detailed budget request reviewed by The Verge. However, there aren’t a lot of details for how the Moon plans will play out, and very little funding is allocated for developing all the hardware needed for putting people on the lunar surface again.
The budget confirms previous reporting from The Verge regarding the future of the space station. However, a new internal document from NASA, reported yesterday by The Washington Post, reveals that the space agency does not intend to get rid of the ISS once government funding ends, but instead turn it into something of a commercial real estate venture. The goal is for other countries and private space companies to pick up the slack and “operate certain elements or capabilities” of the ISS, so that NASA still has a platform to conduct science experiments, according to the document. “NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit,” the memo states.
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