NASA’s leader wants to privatize the International Space Station. It’s a remarkably terrible idea.

By Konstantin Kakaes

Even by the standards of a business-happy Republican Party, privatizing the International Space Station — the Trump administration’s latest scheme — is a conspicuously terrible idea. Since taking office as NASA’s administrator in April, Jim Bridenstine (previously a member of Congress from Oklahoma with no scientific background) has pushed this scheme, most recently in an interview this week with the Washington Post.

NASA says it will save money by “leveraging private industry capacity, innovation, and competitiveness.” But it’s not just Democrats who are opposed to Bridenstine’s plan. None other than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) held hearings in May and June to voice opposition.

The ISS, as the space station is commonly known, is by far the largest man-made object ever to orbit the Earth. NASA, the Russian space agency, and 13 other countries built and run it jointly. It took 37 space shuttle flights and five Russian rockets to launch its various components. The station’s pressurized interior — the part astronauts live and work in — is about the size of the inside of a 747. Together with its large arrays of solar panels that provide power, the station would cover a football field.

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