Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Value of the ISS

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/science-research-international-space-station-101101.html

I only have one statement regarding this article:

The moment we try to justify science and human progress with dollar signs is the moment we regress.

6 comments:

Marcel F. Williams said...

Nothing wrong with a simple and cheap microgravity space station. I thought Skylab was wonderful! But I've hated the idea of a super titanic microgravity space station since Ronald Regan first proposed it back in the 1980s.

The ISS is a financial black hole, IMO, that continues to cripple NASA's ability to fund anything new. Funding for the ISS will go up from $2 billion a year to over $3 billion a year by the year 2014. The American people could care less about this program and I bet that many of them don't even know that we have a space station program:-) But the Congress loves the ISS as a mere symbol of a manned space program.

If it were up to me,I'd either terminate or reduce funding for the ISS in order to provide funding for a permanent lunar base. And I'd be happy with a simple and cheap Bigelow space station as a way station for astronauts for beyond LEO missions.

Now if the ISS was a simple rotating space station that produced artificial gravity then I'd be in love!

Douglas Mallette said...

So all the international cooperation, learning how to build in space, and human physiology studies that have occurred because of the ISS have no value?

And those are just a few of the many things the ISS has done.

windbourne said...

Marcel,
The ISS will almost certainly remain for some time to come. The reason is that the bulk of the costs of the ISS is transportation. Regardless if it is transportation to ISS or to a BA, it would costs the same if using the same vehicles.
The ISS has a nice super structure that can exists in space for 50 years or longer, though the canister likely can not. So, I am guessing that once BA units have proven themselves, then we will likely replace the ISS canisters with BA-330's, and perhaps a 2100 will be added in 10 years or more.

Marcel, Doug is quite correct. The ISS has had a load of value. And it is just starting.

Marcel F. Williams said...

"So all the international cooperation, learning how to build in space, and human physiology studies that have occurred because of the ISS have no value?"

We pretty much learned that a microgravity environment was deleterious to human health during the Skylab program. What we needed to learn is if producing artificial gravity would resolve this problem. Unfortunately, the ISS was never used to solve this extremely critical problem.

I'm all for international cooperation as long as it doesn't financially cripple the US from doing other manned missions in space. $3 billion a year for the ISS could easily fund a Moon base program to go along with the already funded HLV and crew launch program.

Also, I liked the fact that Russia had its own space station and hated the fact that we forced them to destroy it. I like to see individual nations do things their own way.

I would have preferred NASA having their own small space station, allowing guest from other nations to visit. And I liked the idea of US astronauts visiting the Russia space station to see how they do things. I really don't believe in a one size fits all international space station.

Douglas Mallette said...

Then we don't share the same vision for one of the key purposes of space exploration, to unite the world in a common goal that's bigger than the Earth. It's time to break down artificial borders and archaic divisions, and space has helped and can help with that.

I'm not big on the Nationalism kick. Nationalist fervor clouds basic judgment. I'm a human from Earth. That's a good enough identifier for me.

Marcel F. Williams said...

I think nationalism is going to be here for awhile.

But I also believe that could be the last century of nationalism. Nationalism could disappear before the end of the century due to the prosperity brought about through the advance of freedom and democracy, abundant nuclear and renewable energy, and the exploitation of extraterrestrial resources.