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NASA plans to hand over International Space Station to commercial entity

Signalling a new era, a top NASA official has said that a commercial spaceflight company may take over the International Space Station (ISS) to carry on key research in the low-Earth orbit.

In a video, showing a panel discussion on NASA’s plans towards a mission to Mars, Bill Hill, Deputy Associate Administrator of NASA’s exploration systems development division, said the US agency is exploring to hand over the international orbiting laboratory to a commercial entity in the next decade. 

“NASA’s trying to develop economic development in low-Earth orbit. Ultimately, our desire is to hand the space station over to either a commercial entity or some other commercial capability so that research can continue in low-Earth orbit. We figure that will be in the mid-20s,” technology website The Verge quoted Hill as saying on Monday.

The news came as Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins concluded their five-hour and 58-minute spacewalk last weekend where the two NASA astronauts successfully installed the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs). The IDAs will be used for the future arrivals of Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew spacecraft in development under NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme.  

Earlier this year, NASA HAD awarded the second round of commercial contracts to resupply the ISS to three private spaceflight companies – Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX. 
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