U.S. missions to the International Space Station may come to a halt in the next few years if President Trump’s upcoming fiscal-year budget passes Congress. The Verge reported Friday that the budget, which the White House is schedules to release next month, calls for eliminating U.S. participation in the space station.
NASA has been a leading partner in the space station since 1997 and currently contributes $3 billion to $4 billion to the ISS each year. The space station is the only destination point in space that astronauts currently have, and it hosts hundreds of ongoing research projects spanning a variety of research that has practical applications for science both on Earth and beyond it.
“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,” said a NASA spokesperson. The spokesperson declined to comment on the leaked budget proposal, however.
Trump signed a NASA Transition Authorization Act last year that directed NASA to come up with ways to wean the space station off NASA funding, although NASA has not released any public information on whether it ever delivered the report to Congress. Trump officials have said that they intend to refocus U.S. space efforts away from international collaborations and toward building deep-space vehicles that could take humans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
Space researchers said that losing the space station would ground U.S. crews for the foreseeable future and thus potentially complicate space-vehicle design and development, however. They added that it could also be a setback for the commercial space industry, which uses the space station to test-fly its new vehicles.