NASA has disclosed its early plans to hand over the ISS to a private corporation to fuel low-orbit ventures after its operational period ceases in 2024.
If you listen really, really closely, you can hear the cogs in Elon Musk’s mind turning. NASA has officially announced that it plans to hand over the ISS to a private corporation once it has passed its operational period, which ends in 2024.
NASA’s ultimate goal is to fund ventures that extend humankind’s grasp beyond low orbit and into the stars, and that means funding ventures such as the ISS will be an unlikely luxury. Instead, the agency plans to hand over the station to a private corporation – such as SpaceX or Boeing, potentially – instead of deorbiting it and sending it smashing into either the atmosphere or ocean.
As reported by TechCrunch, NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator Bill Hill stated that “NASA’s trying to develop economic development in low-earth orbit. Ultimately, our desire is to hand the space station over to either a commercial entity or some other commercial capability so that research can continue in low-earth orbit.”
The move comes as a change in strategy for NASA, as the agency intended for the private sector to eventually construct their own smaller successors to the ISS.
Hill declined to go into further detail, as the arrangement to rent or ultimately sell the ISS will be a tricky endeavour. The station – which is a joint venture between NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA, ESA, and CSA – has demanded billions of dollars in the form of yearly maintenance operations.
The station is already, in some respects, undergoing the process of commercialization. Astronauts have begun installing a parking spot where corporations such as SpaceX and Boeing will be able to dock arriving vehicles.
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