The National Space Development Agency said Wednesday it is able to slash by more than one-third its contribution to the operational costs of the International Space Station. The initially planned contribution was 60 billion yen.

The multinational space project has come under review for downsizing as the United States, its chief architect, has recently complained of a lack of funding due in part to shifting U.S. priorities.

The estimate is based on the assumption that only three astronauts would live aboard the station at a time, rather than the seven initially envisaged.

NASDA said after a meeting of the science ministry’s Space Activities Commission that it can save money by reducing from two to one the number of yearly H-IIA rocket transport missions. The rockets are to be used to ship everyday goods to astronauts living aboard the station.

Other cost-saving measures include postponing low-priority research projects and canceling those requiring a large amount of manpower.

Japan is in talks with other participating countries over the station’s final physical structure and appearance. The date by which they aim to have a full crew of astronauts aboard is also under discussion.

The agency and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology plan to draw up detailed plans on how to proceed with partially privatizing the project, along with other issues, at the end of this year.

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