Friday, May 29, 2009

Full House

Today marks a special day. After 10 years, the International Space Station now has a full crew of 6 people. Hooray 6! Now I want a Moon Base with 20. I'm never satisfied. :)

I can only hope this finally turns the ISS into a more productive orbital platform. Unless you are intimate with the internal workings of the ISS, and I am given that my first job right out of college was to become a Motion Control Instructor for the ISS, you cannot imagine how much of a pain it is to maintain daily operations of the ISS, try to conduct science, and keep yourself in shape and healthy with only a 3 person crew. Yes, they got some science done, but now with 6 people, I imagine the increase will be significant.

The crew of the ISS represent the space agencies of Russia, the U.S., Canada and Japan, as well as 11 countries of the European Space Agency. With all of the nonsense and bickering going on in the world today, the ISS represents what can be done when nations of the world focus their energies and resources on something constructive and not destructive. It's no coincidence, in my opinion, that the nations involved are also the peaceful leaders of the world.

Psychotic fundamentalists in the Middle East remaining hell bent on the destruction of humanity, while the majority of the world works together to try and make for a better place to live. Want to make significant efforts in changing the focus of the Middle East from violence to productivity? Develop some high profile astronauts from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, etc. and have them travel to the ISS. It would be a proud moment for their cultures and show them that their energies can be better suited for the purpose of science and exploration.

And this message should be overt, in your face, and obvious. It should be stated over and over, by the astronauts themselves, that there are better things to do in life than follow the radical views of the few who want to destroy the many. The older, more staunch radicals might not care, or even get it, but the younger generations would see that their lives could be worth more than a human weapon to fundamentalists. They would see international cooperation on a grand scale, in space.

Humanity's expansion to space is a vital link to bring together all nations of the world. I'm not talking about some Utopian concept, because there will always be differences and disagreements...we're human. But space is the one place where working together is paramount to survival and productivity. Space exploration and development will serve to improve many current issues, like economics, education, health care, energy, and more. If we can also use space as a platform for international relations and global cooperation, then space truly does become the one place where humanity finds, ironically enough, a common ground.


Marcel F. Williams said...

The ISS is nothing but a glorified Skylab.

There's no logical reason for a centralized international space station. Small space stations are much more economical. Every nation should have their own individual space station (US, Russia, China, EU, Japan, etc.). And private corporations should also have their own small space stations. The Ares V should be able to launch a large space station more than twice as massive as Skylab for whatever country or business that desires them.

Hopefully when the Ares V is up in running, we could also start launching and assembling the first rotating artificial gravity space stations.

But for now, the US needs to substantially curtail its funding for the ISS (over $2 billion a year) and use this money for the Ares V and for establishing a permanent base on the Moon.

Douglas Mallette said...

Marcel - Can you explain to me how building, launching and funding your own space station can possibly be more economical (CHEAPER) than sharing the load among several nations? Your argument makes zero sense.

I could rent a house myself and pay all the bills, but if I can get a few roommates to help out a lessen the load, doesn't that make MORE sense? Last I checked, people do that all the time.

In a way, the ISS is a montage of individual space stations, they all just happen to be attached and maintaining the same orbital characteristics.

We didn't build or pay for Kibo, Japan did. We didn't build the Russian or European segments either. Yes, we ferried them, and I've always believed that the other nations should have gone halvsies on the taxi cost, but we made the arrangement to ferry them up on our dime. Bad business call.

Bigelow is working on his own space station, but he's waiting on SpaceX to be ready to launch his stuff. Hell, he has one up there now under constant testing and observation.

I am all over the Moon focus though. Once the ISS is built, and all we're doing is sharing maintenance costs and ferrying astronauts up, the annual cost of operations will go down. At which point I sure hope to hell we start the serious focus on a Moon base and not just a damn visit. :)

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