Looks like President Donald Trump isn’t a big fan of the International Space Station (ISS).
While the president is keen on getting American astronauts back on the moon, his administration is reportedly preparing to end U.S. support for the ISS.
According to a draft budget proposal reviewed by The Verge, the Trump administration plans to cut off support by 2025, at which time American astronauts could be grounded. NASA is currently committed to continue funding the program through 2024, due to an extension made during the Obama administration. While the proposed budget may change, it appears as though the administration will seek to direct funding toward lunar exploration instead, with the intention of having manned missions to the moon by the early 2020s.
Of course, any budget proposal put forward by the administration will need to be approved by Congress. However, many in Congress have previously expressed support for transitioning the ISS away from relying on NASA funding, in order to free up funds for deep space exploration.
The ISS has been in existence for more than two decades, costing NASA between $3 and $4 billion a year, according to The Verge. Should the U.S. cut funding, NASA’s international partners will be put in the position of deciding whether to continue to move forward with the project without its support. Some reportedly hope that NASA will extend funding through at least 2028, at which time it is expected that the commercial sector would be capable of taking on some of the ISS’s operations.