Trump's NASA budget focuses on Moon with an eye towards Mars

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But it does not intend to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether, and it is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector, according to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post.

The concern is that the nation could be left with nowhere to send astronauts and do science research and technology development in low Earth orbit, just as the nation is now in the midst of a almost seven-year gap in its ability to launch astronauts from USA soil.

"The budget proposes to end direct United States financial support for the International Space Station in 2025, after which NASA would rely on commercial partners for its low Earth orbit research and technology demonstration requirements,", which was released on Monday. The U.S. has spent over $100 billion to build and operate the space station. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. "It has produced enormous benefits to the United States and the world, and we should use that asset as long as it is technologically feasible and cost-effective to do so", Cruz said in a February 7 speech at the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Conference here.

Mark Mulqueen, the space station program manager for Boeing, told the Post that pulling government funding for the station would be a "mistake".

The question now is: Who would be willing to take on this expensive and complicated task?

The US government would create a $150m programme to help prepare private companies to take over space station operations over the next seven years, according to the document.

The space station is a joint effort between several space agencies from around the world.

. "It's inherently always going to be an global construct that requires USA government involvement and multi-national cooperation". Running the facility reportedly costs up to $4 billion each year.

Winter Olympics 2018: Chris Mazdzer wins historic silver in men's singles luge
The best the USA had ever done in the Olympic event was fourth-place finishes by Tony Benshoof in 2006 and Adam Heidt in 2002. The U.S. men's team had previously captured medals in the luge doubles competition (1998 and 2002).

Next up for the Russians is the return of three station crew members aboard the Soyuz MS-06/52S spacecraft February 27, bringing outgoing station commander Alexander Misurkin and two NASA astronauts, Mark Vande Hei and Joseph Acaba, back to a landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan to close out a 166-day stay in space.

The NASA document indicates the administration "will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry" as it hammers out a fuller plan.

"We're building capability for the eventual human exploration of deep space and the moon is a stepping stone", NASA's acting chief financial officer, Andrew Hunter, said.

Elon Musk's SpaceX company and Orbital ATK have been delivering to the station since 2012.

SpaceX and Boeing, meanwhile, are developing crew capsules to fly astronauts to and from the space station within the next year.

The president announced on Monday plans to end direct federal funding for the orbiting lab by 2025 and provide $150 million to begin a program to "encourage commercial development of capabilities" that NASA could use in its place.

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