The global space station sets the record (3,641 days) for the longest continuous human occupation of space.
NASA already has begun talks with space station partners on the cislunar outpost known as the Deep Space Gateway, which is likely to be built in cooperation with Russian Federation and other nations. The United States has spent almost $100 billion on the orbiting laboratory and has continually looked for ways to keep it flying. But in a brief and strongly worded statement NASA said it is "committed to full scientific and technical research on the orbiting laboratory, as it is the foundation on which we will extend human presence deeper into space".
A NASA spokesperson declined to comment on the budget draft, but noted the program's importance to human space travel. The White House plans to end NASA's funding for ISS by 2025, according to a draft 2019 budget proposal seen by the Verge. Barack Obama's administration approved an extension of the space station until at least 2024.
The space station costs NASA about $4 billion each fiscal year.
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An artist's rendering shows Sierra Nevada Corp.'s concept for a deep-space habitat.
Yet as The Verge noted, ending support too early could lead to "a gap of human activities in lower Earth orbit", with fewer opportunities to train astronauts, test new systems, and carry out research on long-term human survival in space. Companies like Bigelow and Axiom need to start developing private markets, everything from space tourism to manufacturing products in microgravity.
But will these private companies, like SpaceX and Boeing, be ready to take over operations in that part of space without the significant government support provided to the Space Station?
It's not entirely unreasonable that funding for the Space Station would end by 2025.
"It's one thing to say this is the last space station that will be owned and operated by the federal government", Manber said. The Verge said an intention to cancel funding could signal to worldwide partners the United States isn't interested in the program's continuation - and many of those partners haven't yet decided if they'll keep working on the effort after 2024. "What also is a fact is the ISS is still the only game in town that we have at the moment".