Tales from the Edict 15 - ISS Reboot
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
In 2030, despite indications to the contrary, the US ended its contribution towards the maintenance and upkeep of the International Space Station, preferring to return to partisan space projects with a limited number of allies. The necessary legislation that would have seen ongoing US funding was blocked in the House, principally by Republican supporters who have long sought a greater role for private sector interests in the budgeted Future Human Spaceflight Act of 2028.
It was clear potential replacement funding partners would not be found — the resurgence of Russian space exploration funded by the Kremlin Collective ruled their interest out, while the Chinese, who were already frozen out of the ISS project, responded with the unveiling of their own ambitious Chinese 30-40 Space Initiative orbital platform.
In 2009 both India and South Korea had indicated a willingness to join the ISS program, but their participation had subsequently floundered amidst the budgetary wrangling. However, the United States made it clear they would be willing to allow both parties to take over the US role provided match funding was agreed, at which point America would also cede ownership of the US derived modules to the incoming parties.
Despite the strength of the Indian and South Korean economies, they could not meet all the financial obligations the US would be relinquishing. Efforts by the remaining ISS partners, in particular the UK, led to the tabling of the program moving to being within the sphere of the proposed UN Solar Assembly. This adroit shift would prove sufficient for the collective contributions of participating partners to indirectly close the funding gap and enable the US to maintain a useful oversight of space activity via the UN. Thus by way of the USA's annual contribution to the United Nations which held steady at around $11bn annually from 2025 to 2035, it’s contribution to the ISS fell from $4bn per annum to $800m.
In April 2031, the ISS was formally handed over to the newly formed United Nations Solar Assembly under the Parker-Aubrey Act whereby the gift from the US was made on the provision that China could only participate in return from direct funding contributions. Four new modules, including a UN Solar Assembly headquarters module, are being prepared to be added to the venerable ISS.
Previous statements made by Russia of its intention to reclaim the modules contributed to the ISS were reversed and these were gifted to the newly proposed UN mission in 2031.
As of 2031 the UN Solar Assembly is determined to be an Intergovernmental Organisation on Earth and a Non-Governmental Organisation in space where its mandate was amended to avoid governmental control to ensure the impartiality of its role as the sole policing force by humanity.