The U.S. government wants to sell the International Space Station to private businesses by 2025, but experts believe that it isn’t going to happen. An auditor recently reported that no private company could pay the massive costs of the international space lab over the next six years.
- On May 16, NASA’s auditor Paul Martin expressed his concern over the future of the space station in front of a Senate space subcommittee.
- At one point, Martin underlined that there was no “sufficient business case” for the privatization of the space laboratory.
The ISS’ annual operations costs will climb to $1.2 billion by 2024 and the companies focused on space research and space tourism haven’t shown any interest in the ISS yet, according to NASA.
At the hearing, Martin said that there has been “scant commercial interest” in the orbital lab over the last 20 years, so it is unlikely it will be privatized anytime soon.
Privatizing the ISS Will Be Harer than Thought
In February, the Trump administration asked NASA to slash direct funding for the station by 2025. The move is designed to save some money for the space agency’s more important programs.
NASA shells out between $3 billion and $4 billion for the space station every year. The money could be used for research that can return humans to the Moon. NASA, on the other hand, doesn’t want to get rid of the station, so it unveiled a plan to privatize the lab.
But Martin thinks that privatization will not help the space agency save enough money. This is mainly because NASA will still have to spend money with the deployment of astronauts and cargo to the space station. For 2018, NASA has a cash stash of $1.7 billion only for these operations.
Any assumption that ending direct federal funding frees up $3 to $4 billion beginning in 2025… is wishful thinking,
Martin told Congress.
Image Source: NASA