President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE’s newly released 2019 budget proposal seeks to end U.S. government funding for the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025.
The proposal would instead allocate millions of dollars to pursue privatization of the station and returning American astronauts to the moon, a goal that the Trump administration laid out last year, The Washington Post reported.
NASA has supported the ISS for more than two decades and contributes between $3 billion and $4 billion to the project yearly. The U.S. has contributed about $100 billion to the station over this time.
It was reported last month that Trump would request an end to ISS funding by 2025, which many have criticized as throwing a wrench in U.S. space exploration plans, as the ISS is the sole destination for U.S. astronauts.
Trump’s 2019 budget proposal, which cuts about $3 trillion overall, slightly increases NASA’s budget to $19.9 billion and seeks $150 million to focus on commercial development and returning astronauts to the moon.
“We’re building capability for the eventual human exploration of deep space and the moon is a stepping stone,” said Andrew Hunter, NASA’s acting chief financial officer, on Monday, according to The Washington Post.
Private companies have made it clear that they are not yet prepared to be fully involved with the station by the time U.S. funding ends in 2024.
Mark Mulqueen, the space station program manager for Boeing, told the Post that pulling government funding for the station would be a “mistake.”
"Walking away from the International Space Station now would be a mistake, threatening American leadership and hurting the commercial market as well as the scientific community," Mulqueen said in a statement.
"Handing over a rare national asset to commercial enterprises before the private sector is ready to support it could have disastrous consequences for American leadership in space and for the chances of building space-focused private enterprise."
Some private businesses have already dabbled in space exploration and have contributed to the International Space Station project.
Air travel giant Boeing and Elon Musk’s SpaceX are currently at work on crew capsule to send U.S. astronauts to the space station via commercial flight, according to the Post.
Private companies have also been handling supplies delivery to the space station for the past six years, according to the Post.
But private companies have made it clear that they are not yet prepared to be fully involved with the station by the time U.S. funding ends in 2024, and are wary of accepting the risks of fully supporting the station without the government support.