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NASA plans to hand over the ISS to a private corporation

Engadget Engadget 19/08/2016 Mariella Moon
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NASA is dead set on leaving Low-Earth Orbit to go to the moon, Mars and other farther destinations. That means extending the space station's funding beyond 2024 is out of the question. Now, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Bill Hill has revealed what the agency wants to do with the ISS once astronauts move out. Instead of deorbiting it and sinking it into the ocean or breaking it apart to sell piece by piece, it apparently wants to hand the spacecraft over to a private corporation.

According to TechCrunch, Hill said during the Journey to Mars event:

"NASA's trying to develop economic development in low-earth orbit. 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."

The agency did say in the past that it plans to leave LEO in the hands of private space corporations, but it originally envisioned them building their own smaller successor to the ISS. Hill didn't explain things in detail -- he also didn't confirm whether NASA's partner agencies share its desire to leave the ISS to the private sector -- but it's going to be tough renting out the station or selling it for how much it's actually worth. The ISS is an international collaboration between NASA, Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada), and they've all been sinking billions into its yearly maintenance and operations.


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