Proposed NASA budget takes one small step toward the Moon

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Those options ranged from continuing the ISS "as is" beyond 2024 to deorbiting the entire station, as well as options to operate the station as a public-private partnership or transfer parts of the station to a private platform. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee.

The concern is that the nation could be left with nowhere to send astronauts and do science research and technology development in low Earth orbit, just as the nation is now in the midst of a almost seven-year gap in its ability to launch astronauts from USA soil.

It was reported last month that Trump would request an end to ISS funding by 2025, which many have criticized as throwing a wrench in USA space exploration plans, as the ISS is the sole destination for US astronauts.

On Sunday, the Post reported that the White House plans to stop funding the orbiting laboratory in 2024 and will work on a transition plan to turn it over to the private sector.

"As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can do (is) canceling a program after billions of investment when there is serious usable life ahead", he said. "We will establish a base for a mission to Mars and perhaps beyond", Trump said at the ceremony at the White House, back in 2017.

The proposal doesn't call for NASA to abandon the space station entirely.

The question now is: Who would be willing to take on this expensive and complicated task?

"The ISS is built for science and human exploration, it's not built for profit seeking", said Andrew Rush, the chief executive of Made In Space, a company that uses 3-D printing to manufacture objects on the space station.

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His company's plan is to attach its own compartments to the existing International Space Station and, once the decision is made to dismantle the complex, detach its segment and continue orbiting on its own.

"It will be very hard to turn ISS into a truly commercial outpost because of the worldwide agreements that the United States is involved in", he said.

The Trump administration recognizes the benefits of worldwide cooperation in space, the document says, and is willing to expand collaboration with USA allies "while working with a broader range of partners at all levels of capability".

Boeing now operates the station for NASA, which costs $3 to $4 billion annually.

After the budget was released, Nasa's acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said it would end "direct federal government support of the ISS in 2025 and (Nasa would) begin relying on commercial partners for our low-Earth orbit research and technology demonstration requirements".

Many space experts and legislators are expressing concern. Sen. In 2014, the Obama administration supported funding for the station through 2024, and the potential transfer of the ISS to private hands would mark a significant step in the trend toward private companies engaging in space travel.

SpaceX and Boeing, meanwhile, are developing crew capsules to fly astronauts to and from the space station within the next year.

The station has allowed worldwide crews - notably in collaboration with the Canadian, European and Japanese space agencies - to pursue scientific research in the environment of a low Earth orbit.

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