In other words, to transition to some sort of a public-private partnership.The document says NASA will expand worldwide and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to "ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit".
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. According to an internal NASA document acquired by The Washington Post, the ISS could transition from being used by the US government to becoming a privately-operated real estate venture.
But key USA legislators and space experts are expressing concern about the plan.
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. For fiscal year 2017, NASA's budget for the space station was $1.45 billion.
The budget request, which was released today (Feb. 12), allocates about $19.9 billion to NASA, an increase of $370 million over last year's request. Mike Suffredini, a former space station program manager for NASA who now runs Axiom Space in Houston and aims to establish the world's first commercial space station cautioned that the US government needs to have a direct hand in the International Space Station until it comes down.
Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut, said the proposed plan to stop funding the International Space Station "makes no sense".
The proposal doesn't call for NASA to abandon the space station entirely. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claimed his company is ahead of the rest of the space industry.
Cochair of the WFIRST research team, David Spergel, who is an astrophysicist at the Princeton University, thinks that it is awful that space astronomy leadership is being abandoned, following the recommendation of the Trump administration to cut the mission.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft connecting to the International Space Station in 2013.
The 2019 budget proposal is dominated by space exploration, with over $10 billion allocated to deep space endeavors, including a specific emphasis to "pursue a campaign that would establish USA preeminence to, around, and on the Moon".
Private businesses are already involved in several space projects.
The American leader stressed out that this time, the mission on the moon will not only follow the installation of the U.S. flag and to just leave traces on the lunar ground, but also to establish "the main base for a possible journey to Mars". No man has returned to the moon since December 11th, 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission. Among them: the proposed end of WFIRST, a telescope with 100 times the field of view of the Hubble Space Telescope. There's only two crew missions a year.