The Trump administration is planning to privatize the international space station instead of simply decommissioning the orbiting international experiment in 2024, according to a report in The Washington Post. According to a document obtained by the Post, the current administration is mulling handing the International Space Station off to private industry instead of de-orbiting it as NASA “will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.”
The Post also reported that the administration was looking to request $150 million in fiscal year 2019 “to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS — potentially including elements of the ISS — are operational when they are needed.”
The U.S. government has already spent roughly $100 billion to build and operate the space station as part of an international coalition that also includes the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the Russian Space Agency. But as one NASA engineer noted in a Quora post explaining the NASA decision to decommission the Space Station, the agency simply lacks the resources to do everything that it wants to do.