Rather than ditch the International Space Station when its funding through 2024 ends, the Trump administration is looking to turn it over to the private sector, the Washington Post reports.
The Post reported Sunday that an internal NASA document it obtained says, "It is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform."
It continues, "NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit."
The report came ahead of the White House's budget proposal for next fiscal year, expected to be released Monday, which the Post said includes a funding request aimed at ensuring that "commercial successors to the ISS" are operational.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
A report on the tech website The Verge said a draft of the budget proposal anticipated ending funding for the space station after 2024, which the Post report followed up with news that the administration was looking to keep the ISS operational, but not on its dime or under its authority.
The station is a joint project of several space-faring nations, and NASA has contracted with private companies, like Boeing and SpaceX, to reach it in recent years. In 2014, the Obama administration supported funding for the station through 2024, and the potential transfer of the ISS to private hands would mark a significant step in the trend toward private companies engaging in space travel.
Initiatives included in administration budget proposals are not necessarily reflected in the appropriations authorized by Congress, and, as the Post noted, a plan to phase out the ISS would likely face pushback from lawmakers.