Deep Space
Solar System

Report questions 'viability' of privatization of space station

A new report sheds doubt on the White House's plan to privatize the International Space Station.
By Tyler MacDonald | Oct 09, 2019
The space agency's inspector general just released a report that questions the viability of the plan to privatize the International Space Station (ISS). The report comes after the White House announced plans to end direct NASA funding for the space station by the year 2025 and transfer its operations to a private sector.

"Each of the options for transitioning or retiring the ISS present NASA with distinct challenges and associated cost," the report says.

If the White House gets its way, NASA would assume "tenant" status in low-Earth orbit and attempt to invest in sending humans to Mars and the Moon. However, it's still not clear if a private entity could operate the station in a profitable manner.

"Based on our audit work, we question the viability of NASA's plans," the report reads. "Specifically, we question whether a sufficient business case exists under which private companies will be able to develop a self-sustaining and profit-making business independent of significant federal funding. In particular, it is unlikely that a private entity or entities would assume the Station's annual operating costs, currently projected at $1.2 billion in 2024."

"We found that, assuming funding for NASA's human exploration program remains constant, a continuation of ISS funding through 2028 will require either increased funding in the 2020s to develop exploration systems needed for Mars missions or will require the Agency to push out the timeline for its Mars exploration plans," the report states.

Ultimately, there is a massive rift between the White House and Congress when it comes to the ISS, and right now, neither side seems to be winning.


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