The Trump administration in February also proposed a $150 million program to build commercial platforms in orbit, hoping to incentivize private companies develop alternative space stations.
To date, only a few companies are working to build private space stations. Two, Bigelow Aerospace and NanoRacks, have hardware on the ISS, while a third, Axiom Space, is set to launch its first module in 2020. Each of these companies is building a habitable craft to continue humanity’s presence in low Earth orbit.
“We are focused on providing commercial platforms that augment the ISS,” Manber said Tuesday. He said that NanoRacks envisions a future that will need the human and cargo transportation capabilities of SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Boeing “for launches to service dedicated platforms” and habitats in space. The three companies have won funding from NASA to develop systems capable of sending astronauts to the ISS, with SpaceX and Boeing scheduled to begin flight tests this year.
When CNBC spoke to Bigelow Aerospace, NanoRacks and Axiom Space in February, none expressed interest in taking over the ISS. Each saw the ISS as a stepping stone to establishing commercial operations in low Earth orbit rather than the foundation on which to build.
“A wholesale taking over of the ISS is a very expensive endeavor,” Axiom Space CEO Michael Suffredini told CNBC at the time.
Read the full report in The Washington Post here.