NASA is seeking to develop a space tug capable of safely deorbiting the International Space Station by 2030.
In the White House’s 2024 federal budget request, the administration requested $27.2 billion in discretionary budget authorization for the current fiscal year.
The sum includes $180 million; it’s initial funding for the space tug, which the administration says will “reduce dependence on Russia and help prepare for a new era of U.S.-built commercial space stations.”
“As the United States transitions to a low-cost commercial space station, the ISS will need to be safely deorbited at the end of its useful life,” it said. “Instead of relying on Russian systems that may not be able to accomplish this mission, the budget provides $180 million to initiate the development of a new space tug that may also be useful for other space transportation missions.”
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At a news conference on Monday, NASA’s head of human spaceflight, Kathy Luders, said the agency “would like to get a better price than that” after a request for proposals, adding that their estimate was “slightly less than that.” less than about $1 billion.”
The current plan to lower the orbital laboratory relies on the engine combustion of the robotic Progress cargo vehicle, which provided by russiaaccording to Space.com.
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The budget will also support the future of low-Earth orbit, including commercial partners, NASA said. It noted that the budget invests $39 million in better understanding the orbital debris environment and exploring ways to ensure safe access to space.
“President Biden’s budget will help us explore new cosmic shores, continue to make great strides in traveling and working in space and on the moon, make air travel faster and safer with cutting-edge technology, and help protect our planet and improve life on the Earth,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.