Author Topic: Article: Trumpís plan to privatize the ISS by 2025 probably wonít work  (Read 10140 times)

Offline Coastal Ron

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I like the idea of using ISS to try to cultivate commercial interest in LEO space stations.

Agreed. It's good to periodically survey the private sector to see what they are interested in, and there is certainly a lot of interest in space activity these days.

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But when (if?) a commercial alternative is available, it seems like there should be a firm policy that the ISS does NOT compete with it, at least for non-NASA business.

Yes, the devil is always in the details.

The challenge with the ISS is that for the U.S. Government it was built to be a National Laboratory, which means it has lots of capabilities but also lots of high maintenance stuff. I'm not sure how that would align with private sector needs.

Plus the ISS is an international joint venture, so the U.S. does not get to dictate all of the terms of use.

I hope to be pleasantly surprised by private sector offers of intent, but as of today I don't understand why any private company would want to take over responsibility for running the ISS.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline yg1968

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Why not? If you are guaranteed that NASA will buy your services, you are allowed to charge a fee that will cover your costs, plus a profit margin.

Offline yg1968

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Published on 7 Jun 2018
On June 6, 2018, the Senate Subcommittee on Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness held a hearing titled, "Examining the Future of the International Space Station: Stakeholder Perspectives."  This hearing provided provide ISS stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the value of the ISS to the U.S. national space program and the future of human space exploration.

Invited witnesses were:

Cynthia Bouthot
Director of Commercial Innovation & Sponsored Programs, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space

Jim Chilton
Senior Vice President, Space and Launch, The Boeing Company

Bob Mitchell
President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

Michael Suffredini, Chief Executive Officer and President, Axiom Space

The event was webcast live and is in the public domain.  The event's original web page is:

https://www.commerce.senate.gov/publi...

We're on Twitter at @WordsmithFL.

Offline SWGlassPit

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Relevant info from Jim Chilton's testimony:

The ISS costs approximately $3B a year to operate (including transportation).  Revenue from commercial use of ISS is less than $100M a year.

A commercially viable space station isn't going to happen until both of the following happen: A) transportation and operation costs drop drastically (not an easy feat if you want a space station that lasts a long time), and B) something happens to enormously increase the commercial demand for human-tended operations in LEO to the degree that companies are willing to pay the necessary costs (blue sky or academic research will never cut it).

Commercially viable space stations need a "killer app" -- something that is enormously profitable, in high demand, and cannot be produced on the ground.  We may get there, but it certainly won't happen before 2025, not because of costs, but because there just isn't a demand for it yet.

In the mean time, the ISS as a government operation is serving a valuable purpose, as do all of the other National Labs.  It provides a resource to allow corporate and academic research at a cost that researchers are willing to pay.  It's the seed corn that will hopefully, eventually develop into a self-sustaining crop.

Offline yg1968

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Good interview (with Sam Scimemi) by SpaceNews on the future of ISS:
http://spacenews.com/nasas-iss-director-on-role-commercial-industry-operating-iss/
« Last Edit: 06/09/2018 12:08 AM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Offline RonM

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I think the best plan would be to add commercial modules to ISS. Once we reach the mid to late 2020s, older government modules can be removed as they reach EOL. Eventually, ISS would transition into a commercial station as government modules are removed, assuming the economics make sense. If the economics don't work out, NASA can buy and operate key parts such as power and communications to subsidize operations.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Eventually, ISS would transition into a commercial station as government modules are removed, assuming the economics make sense.

What about the modules and equipment that are not U.S. Government property? You have to get buy-in from them before you could implement such a plan - what's in it for them?

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If the economics don't work out, NASA can buy and operate key parts such as power and communications to subsidize operations.

Remember NASA doesn't get to choose what it does. NASA works for the President, and is funded by Congress. So it would have to be in the best interests of the U.S. Government at that moment in time to backtrack on privatization efforts - which likely won't bode well if that happens...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline RonM

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Eventually, ISS would transition into a commercial station as government modules are removed, assuming the economics make sense.

What about the modules and equipment that are not U.S. Government property? You have to get buy-in from them before you could implement such a plan - what's in it for them?

Of course, other members of ISS would have to buy into the plan. They get to fly their modules longer. For example, Columbus and Kibo will still have many years of life left in them in 2025. Would be unfortunate if the entire ISS was splashed in 2025.

If the economics don't work out, NASA can buy and operate key parts such as power and communications to subsidize operations.

Remember NASA doesn't get to choose what it does. NASA works for the President, and is funded by Congress. So it would have to be in the best interests of the U.S. Government at that moment in time to backtrack on privatization efforts - which likely won't bode well if that happens...

NASA would be following funding instructions from Congress. Look at Constellation and SLS. Presidents propose action and then Congress gets what it wants in NASA because it's not worth the political capital for a president to fight.

This idea is about phasing in commercial space. Take the next steps only if ready. No backtracking needed.

Offline AncientU

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Eventually, ISS would transition into a commercial station as government modules are removed, assuming the economics make sense.

What about the modules and equipment that are not U.S. Government property? You have to get buy-in from them before you could implement such a plan - what's in it for them?

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If the economics don't work out, NASA can buy and operate key parts such as power and communications to subsidize operations.

Remember NASA doesn't get to choose what it does. NASA works for the President, and is funded by Congress. So it would have to be in the best interests of the U.S. Government at that moment in time to backtrack on privatization efforts - which likely won't bode well if that happens...

What about the best interests of the American people?
The U.S. Government has no 'interests' other than that... self-serving USG is the problem, not the solution.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline SWGlassPit

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What about the best interests of the American people?
The U.S. Government has no 'interests' other than that... self-serving USG is the problem, not the solution.

A strawman argument.  The same argument has often been used to argue against having a space program at all.

Offline yg1968

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Trump wants NASA out of the ISS operations business. Easier said than done.
http://spacenews.com/trump-wants-nasa-out-of-the-iss-operations-business-easier-said-than-done/

Offline yg1968

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NASA IG weights in on ISS transition plans in a report:
https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-18-021.pdf
« Last Edit: 08/01/2018 12:26 AM by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 08/07/2018 04:02 PM by yg1968 »

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