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NASA chief says International Space Station won't go away without a backup plan

Trump may pull funding, but NASA doesn't want another Space Shuttle-like gap in the space program.

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The International Space Station

NASA

If you're worried that the International Space Station might vanish because the Trump administration plans to defund it, don't stress; it'll be around. Or at least parts of it.  

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine says the US won't let go of the ISS without a backup plan, according to The Verge. Specifically, Bridenstein says private companies are very interested in taking over.

However, companies might operate only certain parts of ISS while abandoning other portions. Bridenstein didn't specify which companies were interested. Or, companies might install their own commercial habitats in orbit instead of using the ISS. He emphasizes that many options are available, and neither the Trump administration nor NASA has made a decision.

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But in summary, continuous access to low Earth orbit will be maintained for the US, Bridenstine said. He expressed that he doesn't want a repeat of what happened with the Space Shuttle, where the shuttles were retired before replacements were ready.

"Look, there are kids graduating from high school this month that their entire lives, we've had an astronaut in space," the Verge quoted Bridenstine as saying. "We've had people living off the planet their entire lives. We want that to continue in perpetuity forever. So, no gap; that's the goal."

The White House declined to comment, deferring to NASA. NASA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.