NASA Might Hand Over ISS to Private Companies

Aug 22, 2016 09:04 AM EDT

Recent news revealed that top U.S. space agency NASA is considering to hand over the ISS to private companies.

This was after the new docking system was installed on the International Space Station (ISS). The new docking system will enable private spaceflight companies such as Boeing and SpaceX to dock their own space shuttles capable of transporting crew from the Earth to the ISS and back.

NASA's management of the ISS is about to end in 2024 and according to a news report, NASA has confirmed that it has plans to transfer the management of the space laboratory to private or commercial companies in 2024. According to reports, this is due to NASA's move to shift focus in deeper space explorations such as the Journey to Mars. Traveling beyond the low-Earth orbit, NASA will have to rely on new and more innovative space systems to allow observation and even human landing on the red planet.

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The ISS is a key space laboratory where various experimentations are being held. It is an integral part of space research and in the maintenance of satellites and other engines in space that are governed by the U.S. government. Of course, NASA's hunger to go in deep space shouldn't mean the end of the ISS, so a transfer of management might be inevitable.

Over the years, the ISS has been a prolific testing ground for breakthrough space technologies, like the Bigelow Aerospace's expandable module called BEAM. ISS and NASA have always been in cooperation with other nation's space agencies to man the space station. Roscosmos of Russia and ESA of Britain have been partners of NASA for a long time sending their astronauts and cosmonauts to perform space duty for months at a time.

After the news broke out, the next question was who are the top companies being considered for the management of the ISS? Although there are no confirmed names yet, rumors are Boeing and SpaceX are more likely to be considered since they are developing space shuttles for NASA that fits the newly installed modules on the ISS. Boeing is developing its CST-100 Starliner that is set to launch in 2018. "We're working toward our first unmanned flight in 2017, followed by a manned astronaut flight in 2018," Leanne Caret, Boeing's executive vice president, said in an interview with GeekWire.

The ISS will deorbit in 2020 with the operational mission set until 2024.


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