Re: "real possibility of no US astronauts being present aboard the ISS"
This is Meine Land!
Or China/India/Russia's land. Which is a little frustrating. Space exploration and colonisation should be one of those 'common good' things that we could all get along and just do. But then politicians get involved with work share agreements and everything ends up massively delayed and over budget.
I think the UN missed a trick by not claiming space IPR. 2.5hrs of Marvel licences created over $2bn in revenues & $600m+ in profit (give or take Hollywood accounting) so licencing the Moon could have helped fund a lunar colony. It's a little crazy the amount we waste on frivolous things.
And personally I think NASA should skip the lunar orbiter and go straight for a lunar colony. Curious what we can achieve from above the Moon that can't be done by unmanned surveyors or from the ISS or ISS Mk2. Now with added factory modules!