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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old July 28 2011, 12:10 PM   #1
C.E. Evans
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International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

Nine more years is all the ISS has left according to this:

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The International Space Station will be allowed to crash into the sea after its mission ends in about 2020 to avoid adding to the debris orbiting Earth, Russia's Federal Space Agency said.

"After the ISS completes its mission, we'll have to sink it," Vitaly Davydov, deputy head of Roscosmos said Wednesday. "It can't be left in orbit because it's too complex and heavy. It could produce a lot of junk."
Space agencies from the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada jointly operate the station, which has been in orbit since 1998.

Russian spacecraft are now solely responsible for delivering astronauts to the station after NASA's Atlantis touched down last week, ending the three-decade shuttle program. Russia expects to test its own piloted spacecraft after 2015.
http://www.philly.com/philly/news/na...126296673.html
My local morning TV news show is reporting the same thing.
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Old July 28 2011, 12:29 PM   #2
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

Yeah, that date corresponds with the one I've read last Saturday in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
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Old July 28 2011, 01:42 PM   #3
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

It was originally going to come down in 2015-16, so getting extended to 2020 is a good thing, I think. Also indicative of the fact that there is no replacement ready.
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Old July 28 2011, 02:31 PM   #4
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

What do you mean by replacement? Replacement of what?

I think it's sad that the station will be deorbited and destroyed. The decommissioning is inevitable, but keeping it as a symbol of the first days of space exploration would have been more than wonderful. Unfortunately, you can't land it and you can't send it to a higher orbit without an incredible amount of resources, so that simply won't happen.

I'm still secretly hoping that someone will pay for the attachment of a few thrusters, and will slowly raise it to a orbit that doesn't decay so fast. Non-functioning, but physically intact.
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Old July 28 2011, 02:48 PM   #5
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

"Replacement" as in "another space station," assuming we want to keep building such things in orbit.
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Old July 28 2011, 04:12 PM   #6
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

They just finished building it! Why not just keep it around years and years?
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Old July 28 2011, 05:04 PM   #7
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

bigdaddy wrote: View Post
They just finished building it! Why not just keep it around years and years?
It costs money for supplies and fuel to keep it. Also there's the problem that the modules of the space station do not last forever, parts of them are expected to fail at some point, and there's nobody to repair them. Operating in space is very tricky, and a lot can go wrong, so presumably keeping it in use for too long can be risky, though do not quote me on that.
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Old July 28 2011, 05:40 PM   #8
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

bigdaddy wrote: View Post
They just finished building it! Why not just keep it around years and years?
See the problems MIR had in it's later years.
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Old July 28 2011, 06:31 PM   #9
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

Quite frankly, I think the ISS was a monumental waste of money and resources. We could have built 400 Voyagers for the price of that station.
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Old July 28 2011, 07:07 PM   #10
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

...And be half as proud, to be sure.

Hugely expensive, over budget, and well behind schedule (remember when it was supposed to take 5-6 years, like they said at the first launch in '98?). But it makes a lot of people proud, and when it streaks overhead on a summer night (as it often will if you know when to look), it inspires. Can't put a price tag on that.

Unfortunately, it's probably the LAST space station we'll ever have real romantic thoughts about. By 2020 (IMO it'll be closer to 2025 - they'll figure out a way to extend it safely) the Chinese will have at least one "permanent" station like Mir (after a couple Salyut-styled entries) that international crews will be visiting, and I wouldn't rule out some US-led international cooperation by that point.

And if we're lucky, some private concerns will have something on the go at a fraction of the ISS size and price, supplied by technology that SpaceX is pioneering and the Russians will be able to help along (with an occasional visit by Virgin). By then, space stations will be relatively routine, and people can have romantic thoughts about the moon and Mars without worrying as much about a single $150B station.

Here's hoping...

Mark
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Old July 28 2011, 07:37 PM   #11
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

Mark_Nguyen wrote: View Post
...And be half as proud, to be sure.
Seeing the ISS does not make me proud. Seeing photographs of alien objects in the solar system, galaxy and universe makes me proud.
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Old July 28 2011, 08:10 PM   #12
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

Bigelow Aerospace want to live up to their name with some big plans....they have concepts for several space stations, which they hope to build in phases starting within the next 5 years. Thing is, they're planning on using inflatable modules which have already been tested in orbit, so you can get a much larger habitable space with a much smaller payload.
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Old July 28 2011, 09:06 PM   #13
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

Dukhat wrote: View Post
Mark_Nguyen wrote: View Post
...And be half as proud, to be sure.
Seeing the ISS does not make me proud. Seeing photographs of alien objects in the solar system, galaxy and universe makes me proud.
The fact that people have found a way to live for long periods of time in a place where no living thing can survive doesn't make you proud? I look back at the times where a harsh winter was enough to make you worry for survival, and then I look at the station, and hell yeah, I am proud.

Constant human presence in such inhospitable and deadly environment is amazing, and the experience gained there helps us to do the next step.

Photographs of alien objects done by robots would do little to bring you close to a self-sustaining off-world colony. Not that the station has done a lot, but it has done something.
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Old July 28 2011, 10:51 PM   #14
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

You're missing my point. Yes, any habitable settlement in space or on an extraterrestrial world would be a fantastic acheivement for humanity. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the difference between the funds for unmanned solar system exploration by several hundred probes (especially in an effort to prepare for the possible settlements that you describe), versus the money it actually cost for the ISS. That's what I'm not proud of, not the ISS itself. Sorry if I wasn't clear.

I'm actually looking forward to both Bigelow's and the Chinese station attempts.
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Old July 29 2011, 02:55 PM   #15
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Re: International Space Station to be decommissioned in 2020?

I think extending its original lifespan by 5 years is pretty impressive. It means a lot more astronauts will get some experience under their belt than would have happened otherwise.
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