NASA thrives on the budget proposed by the U.S. Government for space exploration which has greatly translated in the output of massive amount of data it receives from all its orbiters, rovers, landers, and most importantly – the International Space Station (ISS). But, after the release of latest budget proposal posted by the Trump administration, ISS will soon come to an end or at least NASA contribution in the operation of ISS will subdue by 2025. Trump administration has asked National Aeronautics Space Agency (NASA) to step-down their contribution in operating ISS and sell its share to other potential partners. This has put the American population in dismay, however, reports suggest that ISS was supposed to end with a different fate by now.
After the Trump administration proposed the budget on Feb 11, it asked NASA to discontinue operations on the ISS and sell it to other partners by 2025. People have been comparing Trump’s comment on ISS as a piece of land that the agency has been asked to sell away. Mark Kelly, a former astronaut responded to the proposal and said that ISS is the only permanent institution in space and that it needs protection right now. He added that the decision is immature and cutting fundings to ISS will result in it taking a step backward in the space exploration. Although Mark Kelly comments on the decision was heard by the space enthusiast loud and clear, there is a whole different story stating that the ISS was supposed to end the other way deep into the Pacific Ocean.
As per the statistics of the station, it has clocked over 110,000 laps around the Earth traveling more than 2.5 billion miles or say, around a distance of 26.9 AU which is 27 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. The first component of the now massive station was sent on November 20, 1998, and has since seen hundreds of launches for components, refueling, restocking, and rockets carrying astronauts. Out of the total 553 astronauts who have ever been into space, ISS hosted more than half of them since its construction and it still has scientists and experts of vivid fields on it doing researches and experiments. The history of ISS dates back to 1984 when President Reagan of U.S.A announced that the space station will be constructed within a decade.
During its speech on the space station ‘Freedom’ as it was entitled, it will enable humans to take a quantum leap in research in metals, communications, science, medicines, and more. Although the underlying objective was to maintain the dominance of America in the space race, Reagan stated that it will include partners like Japan, Canada, and Europe. As per the estimates, the cost was around $8 billion to construct and send all the components and modules in space and assembled them, however, soon the price went up doubling the estimates.
The fall of Soviet Union was a driving force towards the construction of ISS. This is why the U.S. signed a contract with Russia in 1993 where they would work together in building the International Space Station with objectives to relieve both the countries of the exponentially increasing and unaffordable cost of space missions during the space race where these two countries were major opponents. Even after Russia’s assistance in creating the ISS, the actual cost of constructing and transporting components has gone to over $90 billion in 19 years of being in space adding $3 billion to $4 billion every year as operational cost in sustaining the station.
2025 will mark the end of America’s contribution in ISS as said, however, it is uncleared what will happen to ISS after America leaves and how it will sell the share. There are several companies aiming to build hotels in space which could be potential buyers. However, a major stress is given to private space agencies like SpaceX which are making major advancements in the technique and machinery used to revolutionize space travel not only for astronauts but for civilians.