Trump aims for moon, pulls back on space station and telescopes

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While NASA will move forward with plans to create a new space station around the Moon - the Lunar Orbit Platform-Gateway - the budget confirmed earlier reports indicating plans to end funding for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025.

The White House will release its fiscal year 2019 budget for the space agency at 1pm ET today, and although Congress sets the budget for the United States, this document offers a good overview of the Trump administration's plans for NASA.

According to USA government, the proposed $150 million will be used to create a programme to help prepare private companies or commercial entities to take over the ISS operations over the next seven years, as reported by BBC.

Private businesses are already involved in several space projects. "Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we're pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense".

In total, the Trump administration requested $19.6 billion from Congress for 2019.

The president proposes shifting large chunks of money from the space station, satellites studying a warming Earth and a major space telescope toward a multi-year $10.4 billion exploration plan aimed at returning astronauts to the moon in about five or six years.

But the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 directed NASA "to develop a plan to transition ISS from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a LEO non-governmental human space flight enterprise".

President Barack Obama continued the transition to hire Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the station. NASA sends probes out into space.

But any transition to a more private-sector operation using any part of the International Space Station would be hard given the lab's design.

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And for the second straight year, the Trump administration proposes killing five missions that study Earth, especially its climate and the effects of carbon dioxide.

A complete transfer to the commercial sector is a different matter, however. These commercial flights will represent the first astronaut launches from US soil since NASA's shuttles stopped flying.

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three tons of cargo and supplies for the International Space Station has successfully launched after a last-minute abort on Sunday.

Could the International Space Station become a commercial venture run by private industry?

"In short, we are once again on a path to return to the Moon with an eye toward Mars".

The draft transition proposal states that a platform of some sort in low-Earth orbit is needed for medical research to learn more about the long-term medical impacts of the space environment and to develop the life support and other critical systems needed for eventual long-term stays on the moon or even longer flights to Mars.

Hertz also added that only way to preserve the USA space agency's ability to meet the established target cost and deliver the project on time is to maintain progress against the existing plan, should Congress decide against Trump's proposal to eliminate WFIRST.

When that mission launches, it will be the first human mission to the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972. WFIRST was a mission that the National Academies of Science listed as the decade's No. 1 priority for future NASA astrophysics missions.

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