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posted by martyb on Friday May 18 2018, @06:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the why-so-costly? dept.

Trump's plan to privatize the ISS by 2025 probably won't work, NASA's inspector general says

The Trump Administration's plan to hand the International Space Station off to the private sector by 2025 probably won't work, says a government auditor. It's unlikely that any commercial companies will be able to take on the enormous costs of operating the ISS within the next six years, the auditor said.

NASA's inspector general, Paul Martin, laid out his concerns over the space station's transition during a Senate space subcommittee hearing May 16th, helmed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). During his testimony, Martin said that there's just no "sufficient business case" for space companies to take on the ISS's yearly operations costs, which are expected to reach $1.2 billion in 2024. The industries that would need the ISS, such as space tourism or space research and development, haven't panned out yet, he noted. Plus, the private space industry hasn't been very enthusiastic about using the ISS either — for research or for profit. "Candidly, the scant commercial interest shown in the station over its nearly 20 years of operation gives us pause about the agency's current plans," Martin said at the hearing.

Also at Ars Technica.

Related: NASA Intends to Privatize International Space Station
Congress Ponders the Fate of the ISS after 2024
Buzz Aldrin: Retire the ISS to Reach Mars
Can the International Space Station be Saved? Should It be Saved?
Trump Administration Plans to End Support for the ISS by 2025

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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday May 18 2018, @07:28AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 18 2018, @07:28AM (#681056) Journal

    and corporations have not invested heavily into scientific research in decades. Their practice has been to buy up smaller research firms that happen to hit a worthwhile discovery rather than invest in research themselves.

    Mmmmhhh... yes and no.
    If you mean "pure science research" than yes, you are right, but then again ISS is not a "pure science" endeavor, rather an "applied science"/technological one.
    If we extend the area to "investment in applied science/technological research", your assertion is not true. Some recent examples:
    - Extreme UV lithography wafer etching - required the development of an EUV source powerful enough
    - see the Skunk Work's compact fusion reactor - not yet there, but Lockheed Martin invests in it.

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