Major changes could be ahead for the International Space Station but there will always be an American astronaut in orbit, NASA’s new boss said Wednesday.
The space agency is already talking with private companies about potentially taking over the space lab after 2025, but no decision will made without the other 21 countries that are partners in the project, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine said in his first briefing with reporters.
President Donald Trump’s recent budget requests have put discussions about the station’s future “on steroids,” he said. Under Trump’s 2019 proposed budget, U.S. funding for the space station would end by 2025. The U.S. has spent more than $75 billion on the space station.
Options include splitting the station into different segments or reducing its size by breaking it up and discarding one part.
But no matter what happens, there won’t be any gap when Americans aren’t in space, Bridenstine vowed. It won’t be like after the Apollo moon program closed or even the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, which has forced NASA to pay Russia to ferry astronauts to the station.