NASA would just be one of the ISS or that theoretical future private space station's clients, reversing the current arrangement where NASA personnel and their global partners manage the station and conduct onboard experiments.
Wanting to reinvigorate - and fund - new space exploration, which has been hit by decades of stagnation and planned government spending cuts, President Donald Trump's administration will reportedly be working to privatize the International Space Station.
That's according to The Washington Post, which says it's obtained a NASA document that outlines plans for privatization when the US government stops funding the station in 2025.
The administration's plan comes after a week of rumors that it might end stop directing resources toward the 20-year-old laboratory, which NASA launched in partnership with space agencies from other countries.
Aerospace company Boeing now operates the station for NASA, which costs $US3 to $US4 billion each year. As the Guardian noted, since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 NASA has no means to get astronauts into space and now relies on Russian Soyuz rockets to get them to the ISS; private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin won't launch manned missions to low Earth orbit until this September at the earliest. Running the facility reportedly costs up to $4 billion each year.
Trump delays release of Democrat counter-memo
The president has the authority to keep such information under wraps, and exercised it only against the Democrats. D-Calif., said Trump's refusal to release the Democrats' memo indicates he "has something to hide".
A report on the tech website The Verge said a draft of the budget proposal anticipated ending funding for the space station after 2024, which the Post report followed up with news that the administration was looking to keep the ISS operational, but not on its dime or under its authority.
Trump has been pushing for NASA to return astronauts to the moon, possibly to establish a long-term colony that could be used as a test or support site for missions to more distant places like Mars. As it prepares a transition plan, the White House said it "will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry".
Researchers are trying to figure out if the space station could last beyond its current lifespan, which is set to run into 2028, the Washington Post reported.
Walking away from ISS altogether has been panned by lawmakers after pouring so much taxpayer money into it. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said last week, according to the Washington Post.