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Trump Administration Wants To End NASA Funding For ISS By 2025 (theverge.com) 344

According to budget documents seen by The Verge, the Trump administration is preparing to end support for the International Space Station program by 2025. As a result, American astronauts could be grounded on Earth for years with no destination in space until NASA develops new vehicles for its deep space travel plans. From the report: The draft may change before an official budget request is released on February 12th. However, two people familiar with the matter have confirmed to The Verge that the directive will be in the final proposal. We reached out to NASA for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication. Any budget proposal from the Trump administration will also be subject to scrutiny and approval by Congress. But even announcing the intention to cancel ISS funding could send a signal to NASA's international partners that the U.S. is no longer interested in continuing the program. Many of NASA's partners still have yet to decide if they'd like to continue working on the station beyond 2024. The International Space Station has been an ongoing program for more than two decades. It costs NASA between $3 to $4 billion each year, and represents a more than $87 billion investment from the U.S. government. It's become a major hub for conducting both government and commercial experiments in microgravity, as well as testing out how the human body responds to weightlessness.
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Trump Administration Wants To End NASA Funding For ISS By 2025

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  • Time to rename the Kibo module 'Zetsubou'.

  • Kill it with fire! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:07AM (#55997777) Homepage
    Something that is both cooperative and science based... I'm surprised Trump didn't nuke it on his first day in office!
    • Common sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:22AM (#55997813) Homepage Journal

      Something that is both cooperative and science based... I'm surprised Trump didn't nuke it on his first day in office!

      Let's put partisan politics aside and take a walk down memory lane.

      Those of us who are old enough to remember a time *before* the ISS can also remember the arguments against building it in the first place.

      The ISS had no compelling reason to be built. It was nice and all, held some public relations appeal, and there were a few experiments that could be done on it, but in general it was not a good use of the money. People point to all the innovations and advancements we made due to going to the moon - and that's a fair assessment - but none of that happened at the ISS.

      IIRC, it was mostly *scientists* who argued against building the ISS, and politicians who argued for it.

      There are several potential projects that are far more interesting and more worthy, things such as exoplanet exploration rovers, landing on a comet, new and innovative space telescopes, and perhaps other space-based experiments such as laser interferometer gravitational detectors or telescopes based on photon quantum correlation.

      Perhaps we should let scientists recommend where to spend the money.

      Getting back to partisan identity emotionalism, it would seem that bringing an end to the ISS is more of a "common sense" decision than a "keep the dream alive" decision.

      As well as framing this in disparaging emotionalism, you could just also call this decision "common sense".

      • Re:Common sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:46AM (#55997855)

        The ISS had no compelling reason to be built.

        The Space Shuttle was (partly) justified because it could be used to build a space station.

        So the purpose of the ISS was to give the Space Shuttle someplace to go.

        IIRC, it was mostly *scientists* who argued against building the ISS, and politicians who argued for it.

        Refusing to build the ISS would have meant admitting that the Shuttle was a mistake. In politics, you can never admit that you made a mistake. No matter how stupid and obvious a blunder may be, you just double-down and find a way to rationalize it.

        • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

          Actually, originally, the concept was "Shuttle/Station". Then the station part got cut. Then some politician cut funding to bring the External Tanks to orbit (which was a leftover from Shuttle/Station: you could conceivably build a manned station using first-gen External Tanks. But this was when Skylab had yet to be launched. . .

          . . .and the rest was Washington and bureaucratic inertia. . . .

      • Re:Common sense (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:55AM (#55997875) Homepage

        You better let the people spending the money decide where the money is being spent. Want to spend money in space, spend it where it will generate more investment in space. Want more money for space, make bigger plans, don't be bloody cowards. How big, shoot for the stars, why the fuck not but make clear each step of the path. So earth orbiting space stations, a permanent moon base, then town, then city, asteroid bases, a mars colony, bases on the other moons and then the stars. How to pay for it, STOP FUCKING KILLING EACH OTHER, it is expensive and achieves fuck all.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by quantaman ( 517394 )

        Getting back to partisan identity emotionalism, it would seem that bringing an end to the ISS is more of a "common sense" decision than a "keep the dream alive" decision.

        As well as framing this in disparaging emotionalism, you could just also call this decision "common sense".

        That may be true, and if this decision were made under Obama or even Bush I might believe this decision was taken for the proper reasons after careful deliberation.

        But this isn't one of their administrations, it's the Trump administration, and the corruption and incompetence of his appointees has proven to be astounding.

        I don't know if this funding cut is motivated by Trump personally wanting money for a Mars project he has only a vague understanding of, or an appointee working from some ulterior motive, bu

        • if this decision were made under Obama or even Bush I might believe this decision was taken for the proper reasons after careful deliberation.

          IOW, partisan identity emotionalism. You are too emotional too make any form of rational decision about what the government is doing because Trump.

          The media has done a good job of poisoning the well.

      • Re:Common sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @08:36AM (#55998671)

        (AC to preserve moderation)

        The compelling reason for ISS being built was to gain thousands of manhours of experience with how the human body behaves in microgravity. As NASA turns over its manned missions to the more adventurous private sector, this information will be worth the gold we spent to get it.

      • The ISS had no compelling reason to be built

        Except learning how to build and maintain space stations...
        It's now just one more thing that countries with more intelligent and progressive leaders will dominate.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      If you can prove that you can find God with science on the ISS you'd probably get all funding you need and more.

      But then - realize that all money used for space science actually drives development down on Earth. But that seems to be totally forgotten by leading politicians and activist groups. Space science is the leading edge of science and what cuts new ground. It may not create direct profit but a lot of the technology that's developed for it will in turn be stepping stones for something that is providin

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        "But that seems to be totally forgotten by leading politicians" It isn't that it is forgotten, it is that the development driven by space science is not seen or when it is, it is seen as a plot by scientists to stop industry from screwing with the environment in pursuit of profit.

    • by PoopJuggler ( 688445 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @09:55AM (#55999201)
      Space is so passe... Coal is the future!
  • Orange Logic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:08AM (#55997779) Journal

    American astronauts could be grounded on Earth for years with no destination in space until NASA develops new vehicles for its deep space travel plans

    If you want deep-space systems, it's best to have a place near Earth to test them.

    Personally I'd rather see the money spent on unmanned missions and extra-solar planetary scopes: bigger science bang for the buck. BUT if we are going to have Mars-esque manned missions, ISS is a great place to test them out and train.

  • Donald Trump plans to BAN SUMMER. Someone saw the documents and told me so!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 )

      Finally he's doing something against global warming!

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        If a cold snap disproves global warming in el Presidente Tweetie's eyes, than a heat wave must prove it. He's discovered quantum global warming.

  • by friedman101 ( 618627 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:30AM (#55997837)
    Post made more sense when I read it as "end NASA funding for ISIS"
  • Finally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:33AM (#55997843)

    The ISS mission has exceeded it's original goals and it's far past time to recognize that. To say that it's invaluable to science is nonsense. To say that it is also invaluable to a human mars mission (something that I always thought was kind of stupid any way considering the countless failures we have had sending other spaceships there) is not much better than nonsense. This all has *got* to be a big open secret at NASA.

    NASA can finally be unhindered to develope the next generation of propulsion technologies that will be required for any space mission rather than worry about what flavor of bubble gum a handful of Astronauts will need as they check off another orbit done.

    I am truly glad that the Trump administration can see that.

    Rather than a human mars mission, I much, much rather see us be able to find a way to send another spacecraft to Pluto and have it only need a year to get there.

    • Re:Finally (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Thursday January 25, 2018 @03:46AM (#55998001) Homepage Journal

      This is about winding NASA down, with the ultimate goal of shutting or at least massively slashing its funding. They are hoping that commercial spaceflight takes over.

      The first person on Mars will be either a SpaceX employee or working for the Chinese state.

      The ISS could do so much more if the US could learn to place nice with China.

      • The first person on Mars will be either a SpaceX employee or working for the Chinese state.

        So? Look, I get the whole "big missions bring big scientific rewards" thing, but I'm not in any particular rush to get a human to Mars. Or even the Moon, for that matter. I'd much rather work on drones and propulsion. Think: An AI assisted drone exploring the Mars surface, and it only took a month to get there because of some fancy new tech.

        We hobble ourselves by trying to accommodate fragile cargo.

      • This is about winding NASA down, with the ultimate goal of shutting or at least massively slashing its funding. They are hoping that commercial spaceflight takes over.

        Right... the one that wanted to get to Mars within 4-8 (overly ambitious) is secretly scheming to wind NASA down. The goal for NASA to leave LEO has been a scheme for years by the 'they' to wind NASA budgets down. Focusing on climate change is what NASA should be focusing on like what Obama directed them to do. -.-

        Who cares if SpaceX or China get to Mars first? If it is SpaceX that is an accomplishment of the US pushing for private investment in space. If it is China, congratulations to them we should appla

    • What about crashing it into the moon or mars? Or setting it at some kind of permanent orbit? That is a lot of metal that could be used for spare parts and such. Is it just too much fuel to do that?

  • F-35... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Plus1Entropy ( 4481723 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:35AM (#55997847)

    NASA has spent about $70 billion (2010 USD) on the ISS total. You can probably take that outta petty cash at the Pentagon.

    The F-35 has cost 10 International Space Stations...

    • Re:F-35... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @02:51AM (#55997865)

      NASA has spent about $70 billion (2010 USD) on the ISS total. You can probably take that outta petty cash at the Pentagon.

      The F-35 has cost 10 International Space Stations...

      You know the ISS was a waste of money when the best argument its defenders have is that we also waste money on other things that are even stupider.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        So... you're saying that you prefer Trump cutting the program that you admit is less stupid?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          So... you're saying that you prefer Trump cutting the program that you admit is less stupid?

          In absolutely no way whatsoever are the ISS and the F-35 "alternatives", so a "preference" for one over the other is meaningless. Both are a waste of money, and both should be defunded. If we don't have the political will to defund one of them, it is idiotic to use that as justification for continued funding of the other.

          • It is idiotic to complain that the roof is leaking when your house is swept away by a flood.

          • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

            This is one of those situations where you have to recognise you can't win the argument because every time you say something the reply is something that doesn't make any sense causing the argument to increase in mass.

            • This is one of those situations where you have to recognise you can't win the argument because every time you say something the reply is something that doesn't make any sense causing the argument to increase in mass.

              Resulting in a black hole of "my politics is better than yours" arguments.....

              The point is that no matter what party is in power, none of them are interested in actually saving money or cutting the budget. They all have their pet projects and it's just a matter of shifting the funding around to look like they are doing something.

        • So... you're saying that you prefer Trump cutting the program that you admit is less stupid?

          Cutting the program? No, following the funding plan for the ISS. This was the sunset date for the ISS set YEARS ago.

      • Re:F-35... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @03:51AM (#55998017)

        Who said that's the best argument for the ISS? Some useful science has come out of the ISS, but enough to justify its cost by itself? NASA has turned into a pork barrel jobs program. If its budget allocation were decided by NASA itself, and put directly into basic research and advancing the state of the art in aerospace tech, they'd get much more interesting things accomplished. The most interesting upcoming mission they have now is the Europa Clipper, with a vague launch window 4-7 years from now. The NASA human mission to Mars is planned for 15 years from now and always will be. I remember "let's send a man to Mars" being part of George W. Bush's reelection campaign promises (not like I believed it). If commercial space companies will only do what's profitable for them, then NASA should do the R&D that's unprofitable: cleaning up space junk, blue skies science, and basic research. In the near future, "hey we have some humans in orbit" is no longer going to be impressive and their normal PR methods won't be able to save the ISS.

        • If commercial space companies will only do what's profitable for them, then NASA should do the R&D that's unprofitable: cleaning up space junk, blue skies science, and basic research.

          You know what would ACTUALLY convince me that someone at the top cared about NASA? A rearticulation of their mission to be exactly this: focus on basic research, technological development, and doing the foundational proof-of-concept work that paves the way for space tech to be commercialized. And then politicians should GTFO and let NASA determine for itself the best way to achieve those goals. As it is, this looks more like a first move in a strategy to gut NASA as a whole.

          • As it is, this looks more like a first move in a strategy to gut NASA as a whole.

            Honestly, it looks like a way to reset NASA mission to focus on research, technological development (for deep space) and doing foundational proof of concept work. If NASA leaves LEO they have more budget for science and research. If NASA doesn't have to develop a new rocket (heavy lift and human cargo) to achieve orbit then they have more budget for science and research. If NOAA takes over the climate change science then NASA has more budget for science and research.

            The ISS is supposed to be international y

        • by e r ( 2847683 )

          NASA has turned into a pork barrel jobs program. If its budget allocation were decided by NASA itself, and put directly into basic research and advancing the state of the art in aerospace tech, they'd get much more interesting things accomplished.

          It seems like the reason the US has fallen behind in innovation is that the retards are deciding what the money is spent on (and thus also deciding what the smart people spend their time on). It should be the other way around or it should be set up so that the smart people simply spend their time on what they find interesting.

          (The above statement can be taken two different ways, but is still true in both ways)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I assume the next US elections are 2020? Soon enough that hopefully the USA will put an adult in charge of things and need for the ISS will be weight up by someone with better qualified to determine the real merits of keeping it in operation.

    Posting anonymously as I have better things to do with my life that listen to Trump supporters. Roll on the flamebait moderation, I know you can't resist using your moderation points to punish views your don't personally agree with...
    • I assume the next US elections are 2020? Soon enough that hopefully the USA will put an adult in charge of things and need for the ISS will be weight up by someone with better qualified to determine the real merits of keeping it in operation.

      We've managed to elect a peanut farmer, a movie star, a member of a gang (Choom), and now a social media celebrity.

      The next election will likely be won by a corporate shill that will make Ajit Pai look as neutral as beige paint. Corporations have been manipulating government for decades; might as well officially hand it over to them.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @03:28AM (#55997955)
    The ISS was only designed with a 15 year life expectancy [popsci.com]. It is currently about 18 years old (some modules are older, some newer), and by 2025 it'll be 25 years old. NASA figures the absolute deadline is 2028 [inverse.com]. So 2025 is a good retirement date if you want a safety margin. It's commensurate with a previous NASA study [nasa.gov] which green-lighted keeping it operational until 2024.

    Discussion should be focused on what comes next. Not on how to keep the ISS flying. The Space Shuttle was retired for the same reason - its components were designed with only a max 30 year lifespan in mind. Retrofitting it for longer service would've involved replacing all these parts. And if you're going to do that, you might as well design something completely new that takes advantage of new technology that's been developed in the previous 20+ years.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "The Space Shuttle was retired for the same reason - its components were designed with only a max 30 year lifespan in mind. Retrofitting it for longer service would've involved replacing all these parts. And if you're going to do that, you might as well design something completely new that takes advantage of new technology that's been developed in the previous 20+ years."

      That's the same problem however. You retire something without having a replacement ready to go.

      Sure, the Space Shuttle was ending it's lif

      • by e r ( 2847683 )

        You retire something without having a replacement ready to go.

        It's not actually critical that we have a manned presence in space at all times nor critical that NASA have some certified vehicle that can launch at a moment's notice.

    • Mir was designed with a 5 year life expectancy. It spent 15 years in space and only during its last three years or so problems really started to occur on a regular basis.

    • I understand what you're saying, but I guess there's a part of me that hopes the next space station will be like an extension of the old one. "oh, that's the old, original part of the house, with no artificial gravity and the worst toilets you've ever seen, but if you come through here you get to the new part which we added recently, we put in bi-fold doors, raised the ceiling height and put in this new kitchen".

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @05:19AM (#55998211)

    ... the "international" space station was mostly a political project and it is hard to cite any real success it had along those lines. It was about mending fences with the Russians after the Cold War by participating in a shared project that both nations could excel at... the Russians got funding to keep their space program alive without which it probably would have died entirely... and the US HOPED that the Russians would see the US as a potential friend in the world. Whatever our past... the future opens ever wider.

    Sadly, it doesn't seem like any of that happened. The Russians seem immune to olive branch gestures.

    That being the case... what is the scientific point of it? Nearly everything it does can be done more cheaply and creatively in other ways. We don't need to share funding or technology with what are still stubbornly rival powers. We are not chained to whatever is relevant to the ISS if we don't fund it at all.

    The whole thing is likely to be abandoned and de-orbited.

    I want humanity to venture into space... to claim the stars and all that stuff. But the ISS doesn't seem to have any role in that ambition. Its not even a good science platform. It isn't even good propaganda. It isn't even good diplomatic fodder to make the Russians happy. What does it do? Really?

    I am very happy to fund NASA heavily. But clarify the mission statement and fund according to that clear mission.

    • About the only thing I can think of that ISS does do is give us data on long duration space health in preparation for a Mars mission. Don't we have enough of that?
      • We're still missing one of the most interesting pieces - whether artificial gravity works as expected, and what side effects it has on astronauts. Many long-term visions of space travel rely on this technology, but it has never actually been tested. There was a module built for these experiments by Japan, but for funding reasons it never flew.

    • the US HOPED that the Russians would see the US as a potential friend in the world. Whatever our past... the future opens ever wider.

      Sadly, it doesn't seem like any of that happened. The Russians seem immune to olive branch gestures.

      The US hoped the Russians would see the US as the world's lone superpower and agree to become a vassal state. Turns out they're uppity and have ambitions of being at least a regional power in former Soviet states instead of turning them over to the USA.

      Regardless, though, the IS

    • The Russians seem immune to olive branch gestures.

      That's rich, coming from the nation that blames absolutely every ill in the world (including everything that's wrong in their own country) on the Russians. Would you care to provide a list of things the Russians have _actually_ done wrong (as opposed to a list of things they've been accused of, without any substantiating evidence whatsoever)? Because to me it looks very much like the US needed a new cold war and a new opponent so its military programs could continue to be funded, and the Russians, without a

  • The real reason... (Score:3, Informative)

    by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @05:58AM (#55998281)
    I think we all know the real reason that Trump is trying to kill off the ISS: He's a Nazi spy working for the 4th Reich who are waiting on the dark side of the moon for their chance to invade and the ISS is our best line of defence! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
  • by sproketboy ( 608031 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @07:27AM (#55998453)

    FYI:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    "Obama also announced an extension of funding for International Space Station operations, 90% complete by mass[15] at the time of the speech but scheduled to be deorbited by as early as 2015 before Obama announced the extension, which will provide funding through 2020."

  • The Obama Administration signaled the end of support for the ISS back in 2014 when funding for only another 10 years was authorized. That's right, he wanted to end US financial support for the ISS by 2025. While it might be convenient to blame this on the Trump administration, continuing to fund a mission that is well past its life expectancy is a losing proposition. Amazing how readers get sucked into the narrative that news organizations want you to believe just by the inflammatory headlines.

  • He's not going to be president anymore by 2025, so how is it that he can even do that?

    We've seen that it's entirely possible for one president to undo (at least some) decisions made by a previous one in the past.... what makes them sure that this would stick?

  • As with the Space shuttle...it doesn't GO ANYWHERE. Oh, they might have some experiments and what not they do, but, it is still STUCK NOT DOING ANYTHING. EXPLORE outside of our planet, not circling the 3rd rock from the sun.
  • The first missions to orbit and moon had important purposes - to see if humans can survive, to make science experiements in microgravity, to look for signs of life on moon, demostrate that Americans and Russians can cooperate without ripping each other's throats out and so on. But space is mostly... empty. Before we continue manned exploration, we need to decide WHY. Are we going to mine an asteroid for materials important on Earth? Will we be able to establish a permanent colony for people to develop as th

  • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Thursday January 25, 2018 @12:12PM (#56000231) Homepage

    I love space and I'm pretty much rather see a buck spent on that than on many other things. But I'm on the fence with this one. I love the ideal of having a permanent outpost in space but I'm just not seeing what this gets us. I know there is some research going on but I don't see that being worth what we are paying.

    Instead of us putting in any more money into this tinkertoy collection in space, I would rather see us getting back to Warnher von Braun ideal of a space habitat.

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