Mixed Reactions to Plans End Direct Federal Funding to ISS in 2025

This artist’s concept shows how a future robot called LEMUR (Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot) could inspect and maintain installations on the International Space Station. The robot would stick to the outside using a gecko-inspired gripping system. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

There have been some varied reactions to the Trump Administration’s proposal to end direct federal funding to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025 in favor of commercial ventures in low Earth orbit and a focus on returning astronauts to the moon.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)

“The administration’s budget for NASA is a nonstarter. If we’re ever going to get to Mars with humans on board and return them safely, then we need a larger funding increase for NASA. The proposal would also end support for the International Space Station in 2025 and make deep cuts to popular education and science programs. 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.”

Robert Bigelow
Founder, Bigelow Aerospace

“The new budget is Earth shattering news in the space world. There are multiple pathways that can energize exciting opportunities over the next few years. Bigelow Aerospace applauds the focus on commercial partnerships for low Earth orbit and lunar exploration and stands ready to partner with NASA and others — in new and exciting ways that we will announce in the near future.”

Coalition for Deep Space Exploration

  The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (Coalition) welcomes the release of the President’s FY 2019 Budget Request for NASA today. The budget request, which proposes an increase to the agency’s topline to $19.9 billion and funds key exploration program objectives, including NASA’s flagship human exploration systems— the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion crew spacecraft and Exploration Ground Systems— as well as the James Webb Space Telescope, Europa Clipper and Mars 2020 planetary science missions. It also proposes a series of Lunar Exploration and science missions in partnership with industry and would establish the first elements of long-term Lunar Outpost – Gateway as a platform for a range of missions for NASA, as well as international and industry partners.
“The Coalition is encouraged by the focus on deep space exploration in the FY19 budget request, which establishes a strong role for NASA and its industry, and international partners as we prepare to return to the Moon. These exploration programs support the policy directive set forth last year in Space Policy Directive-1, and will ensure continued U.S. leadership in space,” said Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition. “At the same time, we are concerned about the proposed cancellation of the Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST), which was the New Worlds New Horizons Decadal Survey’s highest-ranked large space initiative.”
“Additionally, we note the widely-reported proposal to end government funding for the International Space Station (ISS) in 2025. Although we support the Administration’s initiative to ensure an ongoing U.S. presence in low Earth orbit, we hope that the Administration and Congress will reach consensus on a plan to ensure that any transition incorporates the myriad constituencies and functions currently served by the ISS – including its role as an Exploration testbed.”
“Although we await additional details about the budget request, the increase in NASA’s topline funding level and emphasis on exploration is welcome, and we look forward to learning more in the days ahead,” concluded Dr. Dittmar.

  • Mike Fidler

    We cannot sell ISS because it’s owned by several countries! (International Space Station)

  • Michael Halpern

    Is it just me or does that robot in the picture look like a clock reading 3:05?

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  • therealdmt

    I liked the previous plan of adding two [standalone capable] commercial modules to ISS and incorporating them into station operations. NASA would have oversite of the modules’ developments similarly to what has been happening with Commercial Crew, and the independent stations would get well-vetted and enjoy the benefits of NASA’s vast experience. Let that run a few years, iron out the kinks, let the modules develop some customers and let the whole ISS ecosystem continue to grow. Meanwhile, the commercial crew providers would be veterans by then, and newcomers such as Blue Origin and possibly Sierra Nevada may have emerged or be emerging. The module operators would be learning the ropes of the space station running business.

    *Then* transition to commercial modules only.

    I do support the basic idea of transitioning to commercial for low Earth orbit, but timing, preparation and readiness are crucial.

  • therealdmt

    I think it’s reppin’ the 305. Must be a Heat fan!

    (That’s Miami’s area code)

  • Michael Halpern

    We actually dont know much about the current plan,

  • windbourne

    Offhand, it looks similar to the GOP doing CCx. Claim support for it and private space, then cut all funding to something so minor that little will happen.
    $150 M?
    That has to be a joke.
    And this time, ISS development is spread all over nation and world. That means that both GOP and Dems will fight taking out ISS.

  • windbourne

    True. But we can stop support for it and turn it over to rest. Or, we can get all partners to move off ISS, leaving just the truss and then turn that into a wonderful sat support system.

  • Michael Halpern

    at least taking it out suddenly, $150m might be just enough to get a CRS style program for commercial station modules started and to generate commercial and private investment interest, with the success of CRS to back it, but not enough for a lot of momentum directly, and unless there is a big increase to it down the line, not enough for commercial successors to be ready by 2025. You might have one of them ready if they are as bold as SpaceX, but ideally you want 2 or more.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Or, if the partners don’t want to keeping dumping money in it, just dump it into the ocean to eliminate the risk of an uncontrolled re-entry when it fails.

    Remember, the Russians were very reluctant to do the last extension and the other partners didn’t seem that thrilled either. Really, zeroing it out may just reflect that the partners also want to be finished with it.

  • duheagle

    Aieeee! To the escape pods! Beware the crawling sundial!