The Trump administration wants to privatize the International Space Station

Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan

Internal documents now show Trump wants to turn the ISS into a "kind of orbiting real estate venture run not by the government, but by private industry".

A Trump administration budget request to be unveiled Monday includes $150 million in 2019 and more in years before 2025 "to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS - potentially including elements of the ISS-are operational when they are needed", the document reportedly added.

The plans to capitalize on space privatization are still in the works and the White House "will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry", according to the Post.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly recently wrote in the New York Times that while there has been a surge of commercial activity in low-Earth orbit in the past few years, it would "come to a screeching halt" if the ISS and its government-funded scientific missions which now make those ventures possible were halted.

As the USA has already spent some $100 billion to launch, operate and support the orbital station, the plan is expected to face stiff opposition. Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he hoped recent reports of NASA's decision to end funding of the station "prove as unfounded as Bigfoot". Last month, as reports circulated about NASA pulling the plug on the station, Mark Mulqueen, Boeing's space station program manager, said "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". He said the decision was the result of "numbskulls" at the Office of Management and Budget.

When asked about the possibility of a public-partnership, he said, "I think all of us are open to reasonable proposals that are cost effective and that are utilising the investments we made in a way that maximise their effectiveness".

NASA is now studying whether the life of the station could be extended to 2028, or beyond, and he said any decision should hinge on that report.

"It will be very hard to turn ISS into a truly commercial outpost because of the global agreements that the United States is involved in", Aerospace Industries Association vice president of space systems Frank Slazer told the Post.

Aerospace company Boeing now operates the station for NASA, which costs $US3 to $US4 billion each year. As the Guardian noted, since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 NASA has no means to get astronauts into space and now relies on Russian Soyuz rockets to get them to the ISS; private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin won't launch manned missions to low Earth orbit until this September at the earliest. Subcontractor operations gained momentum during the Obama presidency.