Commercialization and Privatization of Space Industry

Jim Bridenstine has shown his keen interest in handing over the operations of International Space Station to the private companies. Soon after becoming the new leader of NASA, he has been thinking of modifying the space industry with commercialization and privatization. From April, since when Jeff Bridenstine has taken the command in his hands, and since Donald Trump is a different kind of a President, hearsay is taking over at NASA as well as the whole world. People are finding it difficult to understand what is being told is a rumor or truth. The funding of specific projects will be stopped, warnings being issued for speaking the truth and what not. NASA too is not safe from these standard corporate practices.

Meanwhile, Bridenstine stated in Washington post that several large companies are interested in managing the ISS. The government is under the control of a leader who may decide in a fit of the moment if he wants to run the project or not. Even if the present government does not do any harm, you cannot assure yourself that future leaders will always be better than the previous ones. Space is a vivid industry, and it should not suffer because one person does not understand the actual value of something a scientist sees.

Trump’s administration does not wish to fund the orbiting lab- which is a joint venture of NASA and Russia’s Space Agencies. Japan, Canada, and Europe too are involved in the project. This February, a memo of NASA was leaked, and the information of the federal funding being pulled out from the ISS in 2025 raised some questions on the future of NASA and ISS.

NASA does not want to dismantle the space station, but somewhat expand it with commercial partners.  

Rather than dismantling the Space Station, the memo said, the plan was to “expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit.” At the moment, the U.S. spends $3-4 billion a year on the ISS.

The International Space Station’s international nature does, of course, complicate the idea of the U.S. turning it over to a commercial consortium, and Bridenstine told the Post that he was aware companies might find it “hard to close the business case.” However, he said, the White House has “forced the conversation,” and there are still seven years to plan the transition.

Bridenstine also said his top two priorities were the resumption of human spaceflight from the U.S.—since 2011, American astronauts have relied on Russian transportation to get to the ISS—and going back to the Moon with the help of a new, nearby outpost that could ferry supplies there.