"The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be de-orbited at that time - it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform", according to a NASA document obtained by The Washington Post. In other words, to transition to some sort of a public-private partnership.The document says NASA will expand worldwide and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to "ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit". Skeptics say that this is troubling, as the ISS was built for science, not business.
The plan to privatize the station is likely to run into a wall of opposition, especially since the United States has spent almost $100 billion to build and operate it.
Aerospace company Boeing now operates the station for NASA, which costs $US3 to $US4 billion each year. Ted Cruz (R-TX), per the Post, got pretty animated last week when he was discussing talk of such a proposal at the Federal Aviation Administration's Commercial Space Transportation Conference.
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. "As a fiscal conservative, you know one of the dumbest things you can to is cancel programs after billions in investment when there is still serious usable life ahead", he said, though he qualified that he was open to "reasonable proposals". Even if it weren't, it's not clear how a privatized space station could operate. "The launch of Russia's Progress 69 resupply ship to the space station today has been aborted", Nasa said on Sunday on its Twitter page for updates from the ISS. Frank Slazar, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, pointed out to the Post that the worldwide agreements the USA signed regarding the creation of the ISS would render making it a commercial outpost tricky. It's also worth noting that anything like this is far from becoming a reality.