Funding For the International Space Station
While an official budget request is set to be released on February 12, the space community is already scrambling in an effort to change President Donald Trump’s mind.
However, despite this apparent opportunity for discussion, anonymous sources told the Verge that the directive to end funding for the International Space Station would be included in the final proposal to be submitted to Congress for final approval.
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Funding for the International Space Station is crucial to maintaining our main presence in space, and this habitable artificial satellite located in low Earth orbit is an important part of scientific research and advancement of our knowledge of space.
Multiple countries with a presence on the satellite share the costs to raise the funding for the International Space Station, and the backing out of a country as large and wealthy as the United States would be a major problem when it comes to keeping the station afloat.
Funding for the International Space Station amounts to $125 Billion annually, which is shared between all participating countries. Canada, Japan, Russia, and the United States as well as 13 member countries of the European Space Agency combine their resources in order to keep the station functioning.
NASA on its own contributes between $3 billion and $4 billion each year in funding for the International Space Station, and will continue to do so through 2024 due to an extension put into effect from the Obama administration. Since 1993, the United States has spent around $87 billion to both build and operating the International Space Station, which seems like a significant amount despite representing a tiny fraction of the United States budget when spread out over 25 years.
The Future of Space Research
The news outlet Geek attempted to obtain a comment from NASA, but only received the response that NASA and the International Space Station partnership “is committed to full scientific and technical research on the orbiting laboratory, as it is the foundation on which we will extend human presence deeper into space.”
While that answer doesn’t give a sense of how NASA feels about the situation, it reinforces the importance that the United States’ funding for the International Space Station has to continuing scientific advancement in outer space.
Geek reports that the International Space Station is the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit, and is often visible with the naked eye. As of the time of this article, it has been continuously operated for 17 years, two months, and 23 days since the arrival of the first trip to the space station – Expedition 1 – back in November of 2001.
The future of NASA and funding for the International Space Station is currently up in the air, although many are hoping that the funding is extended through 2028, which was the accepted year of the space station’s decommission. NASA will likely have to move over to the private sector for future funding at that point, and the extra few years would give the agency the time it needs to make plans for the future of space exploration.