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NASA to Hand Over International Space Station to Commercial Company by 2020

Aug 19, 2016 03:35 AM EDT
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One lucky company might just get their hands on one of the most coveted piece of property in the universe. NASA is reportedly handing over keys of the International Space Station (ISS) to a commercial owner by the mid-2020s.

The announcement was made during a press conference held Thursday by NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development, Bill Hill. The influx of commercial launches to the ISS would reduce NASA's involvement in the project.

"NASA's trying to develop economic development in low-earth orbit," explained Hill, adding, "Ultimately, our desire is to hand the space station over to either a commercial entity or some other commercial capability so that research can continue in low-earth orbit."

NASA's decision to hand over the ISS to a commercial company isn't surprising given the funds set aside by the American government. Funds given by the government for the ISS to remain in orbit was originally set until 2016. The deorbiting date extended to 2024 thanks to President Barack Obama. The additional funds had extended the ISS operations.

As for potential commercial companies, the space agency did not mention any buyers. Yet, two companies are said to be likely competing for the ISS namely SpaceX and Boeing. Both companies are already making their own trips to the ISS. SpaceX and Boeing are also set to ferry personnel to the ISS by 2017.

Since 2012, SpaceX has run resupply missions for NASA and the ISS. Currently, it has completed nine missions. Aside from missions to ISS, SpaceX has already set out plans for their journey to the red planet. In fact, CEO of SpaceX Elon Musk appears to be more interested to making it to planet Mars than building more commercial space stations. On the other hand, Boeing has made no plans for their journey to the red planet.

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