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posted by mrpg on Friday January 12 2018, @05:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the backups-in-space dept.

Although Russia has plans to detach some of its modules from the International Space Station (ISS) in order to form the basis of a new space station, the majority of the ISS may be deorbited as soon as 2024 or 2028:

Over the course of six missions, the British-born Nasa astronaut has spent more than a year in space. Foale has flown in the Space Shuttle and the Russian Soyuz, lived on the Mir space station and commanded the International Space Station (ISS). He’s carried out four space walks, totalling almost 23 hours outside in both Russian and American spacesuits. These included an epic eight-hour spacewalk to upgrade the computer on the Hubble Space Telescope.

[...] A joint enterprise between the US, Russia, the European Space Agency (Esa), Japan and Canada, the ISS has now been continuously occupied since 2000. And, over that time, has increasingly come to justify its $100bn (£75bn) cost. [...] But the station's days are numbered. Funding by the various space agencies involved is only agreed until 2024. This means in just six years' time, the most expensive structure ever built will be pushed out of orbit by a Progress spacecraft to disintegrate over the Pacific. And the countdown clock is ticking. "Year by year, Russia is launching the fuel to fill up the tanks of the ISS service module to enable the space station to be deorbited," says Foale. "That's the current plan – I think it's a bad plan, a massive waste of a fantastic resource."

[...] Since leaving Nasa, Foale has been working in the private sector on new aviation technologies and believes commercial operators could step-in to secure the future of the ISS. "I'm hoping that commercial space can come up with a business plan that allows part of the ISS to be maintained in space, without sinking it into the Pacific Ocean," he says. "You have to come up with innovative ways of keeping it in space." The ISS already supports some commercial operations. A private company, NanoRacks, operates experiments in equipment racks on the station for private clients. The station is increasingly also being used to launch small satellites into orbit, carried up in commercial spacecraft such as SpaceX's Dragon robotic supply ship. The Russian space agency takes tourists to the station and has even suggested it might build a hotel module.

[...] In the meantime, Foale is formulating his campaign to save the ISS and says he plans to launch websites to gather support to help save the space station. He says he intends to keep pressure on the space agencies to continue to fund the programme. "Every engineer, manager, astronaut or cosmonaut who's worked on the ISS, we all think the space station is such an achievement on behalf of humanity that it should continue," he says. "I'm still giving Nasa a chance to tell me how they're going to do it."

But, unless the private sector steps in, Foale fears that in 2024 the space agencies – and the politicians that fund them – will end up destroying one of the world's greatest engineering accomplishments, not to mention a massive economic investment by millions of taxpayers around the world.

Save it, send it to the Moon, or burn it?


Original Submission

Related Stories

Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway 8 comments

Deep Space Gateway (DSG) is a planned space station in lunar orbit. The U.S. and Russia signed an agreement last year to work on the station's development. Now Russia has created an engineering department inside the RKK Energia space corporation in order to plan the nation's lunar exploration, including a possible manned landing:

Officially, Moscow has been on a path to put a human on the Moon since 2013, when President Putin approved a general direction for human space flight in the coming decade. The program had been stalling for several years due to falling prices for oil, the main source of revenue for the Russian budget. Last year, however, the Russian lunar exploration effort was given a new impetus when the Kremlin made a strategic decision to cooperate with NASA on the construction of a habitable outpost in the orbit around the Moon, known as Deep Space Gateway, DSG.

Although the US saw the primary goal of the DSG as a springboard for missions to Mars, NASA's international partners, including Russia, have been pushing the idea of exploring the Moon first. On the Russian side, RKK Energia led key engineering studies into the design of the DSG and participated in negotiations with NASA on sharing responsibilities for the project.

To coordinate various technical aspects of lunar exploration, the head of RKK Energia Vladimir Solntsev signed an order late last year to form Center No. 23Ts, which would report directly to him. According to a document seen by Ars Technica, the group will be responsible for developing long-term plans for human missions to the vicinity of the Moon and to its surface, as well as for implementing proposals for international cooperation in lunar missions. This is a clear signal that NASA might soon have a new liaison in Russia for all things related to the DSG. The same group will also take care of all the relevant domestic interactions between RKK Energia and its subcontractors.

Unlike the ISS, the DSG should not require any orbital boost burns and could reach any altitude above the Moon using ion thrusters.

Here are two op-eds from last year about the Deep Space Gateway:

Terry Virts: The Deep Space Gateway would shackle human exploration, not enable it

John Thornton: The Deep Space Gateway as a cislunar port

Related articles:


Original Submission

2020s to Become the Decade of Lunar Re-Exploration 56 comments

NASA is going back to the Moon, perhaps permanently, as seen in a new road map (image):

Four months after President Trump directed NASA to return to the Moon, the agency has presented a road map to meet the goals outlined in Space Policy Directive-1. The updated plan shifts focus from the previous "Journey to Mars" campaign back to the Moon, and—eventually—to the Red Planet.

"The Moon will play an important role in expanding human presence deeper into the solar system," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, in a release issued by the agency.

While the revamped plan may share the same destination as the Apollo program, NASA said it will approach the return in a more measured and sustainable manner. Unlike humanity's first trip to the Moon, the journey back will incorporate both commercial and international partners.

To achieve this, NASA has outlined four strategic goals:

  • Transition low-Earth orbit (LEO) human spaceflight activities to commercial operators.
  • Expand long-duration spaceflight activities to include lunar orbit.
  • Facilitate long-term robotic lunar exploration.
  • Use human exploration of the Moon as groundwork for eventual human missions to Mars and beyond.

This may be the best outcome for the space program. Let NASA focus on the Moon with an eye towards permanently stationing robots and humans there, and let SpaceX or someone else take the credit for a 2020s/early-2030s manned Mars landing. Then work on a permanent presence on Mars using cheaper rocket launches, faster propulsion technologies, better radiation shielding, hardier space potatoes, etc.

Previously: President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1

Related:


Original Submission

Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST 16 comments

A Trump administration budget proposal would cancel NASA's flagship-class Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) as well as several Earth science related telescopes, as it focuses on the Space Launch System, Orion, and sending astronauts to an orbital space station around the Moon:

The Trump administration has released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 and put dozens of federal programs on the chopping block, including a brand-new NASA space telescope that scientists say would provide the biggest picture of the universe yet, with the same sparkling clarity as the Hubble Space Telescope. The proposal, released Monday, recommends eliminating the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), citing "higher priorities" at NASA and the cost of the new telescope.

"Given competing priorities at NASA, and budget constraints, developing another large space telescope immediately after completing the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope is not a priority for the administration," the proposal states. "The budget proposes to terminate WFIRST and redirect existing funds to other priorities of the science community, including completed astrophysics missions and research."

Although the Trump administration wants to end funding of the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025, it envisions private companies picking up the slack:

"The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform," according to a draft summary of NASA's ISS Transition Report required by Congress in the agency's 2017 Authorization Act.

"No Sufficient Business Case" for 2025 Privatization of the ISS 12 comments

Trump's plan to privatize the ISS by 2025 probably won't work, NASA's inspector general says

The Trump Administration's plan to hand the International Space Station off to the private sector by 2025 probably won't work, says a government auditor. It's unlikely that any commercial companies will be able to take on the enormous costs of operating the ISS within the next six years, the auditor said.

NASA's inspector general, Paul Martin, laid out his concerns over the space station's transition during a Senate space subcommittee hearing May 16th, helmed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). During his testimony, Martin said that there's just no "sufficient business case" for space companies to take on the ISS's yearly operations costs, which are expected to reach $1.2 billion in 2024. The industries that would need the ISS, such as space tourism or space research and development, haven't panned out yet, he noted. Plus, the private space industry hasn't been very enthusiastic about using the ISS either — for research or for profit. "Candidly, the scant commercial interest shown in the station over its nearly 20 years of operation gives us pause about the agency's current plans," Martin said at the hearing.

Also at Ars Technica.

Related: NASA Intends to Privatize International Space Station
Congress Ponders the Fate of the ISS after 2024
Buzz Aldrin: Retire the ISS to Reach Mars
Can the International Space Station be Saved? Should It be Saved?
Trump Administration Plans to End Support for the ISS by 2025


Original Submission

Operations at the International Space Station Could Continue Until 2030 9 comments

ISS partners show interest in station extension

NASA's partners in the International Space Station are showing a growing interest in extending the station's operations beyond 2024 regardless of NASA initiatives to end direct funding of the station around that time. During an Oct. 1 press conference at the 69th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) here, representatives of three ISS partner agencies said they were open to extending the station's operations to 2028 or 2030 in order to maximize the investment they've made in the facility as a platform for research and preparation for exploration activities beyond Earth orbit.

Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency, said the issue could come up at the next triennial meeting of the ministers of ESA's member nations, scheduled for late 2019. "At the ministerial meeting next year, the ministerial council, I will propose to go on with ISS as well as the lunar Gateway," he said. "I believe that we will go on." At a separate briefing Oct. 2, Woerner emphasized the use of the station as a research platform and encouraged greater commercial activities there. "I believe we should use the ISS as long as feasible," he said. "I always thought 2024 was the end, but now I learned it is 2028, and yesterday I learned it's 2030. So, I will try to convince the ESA member states that ESA should be a partner in the future." However, he noted that ESA could defer the decision on a post-2024 ISS extension until its following ministerial meeting in 2022.

Japan's JAXA and Russia's Roscosmos are also likely to participate until 2028 or 2030.

Separately, a Congressman has introduced the Leading Human Spaceflight Act, which would extend the existing authorization for operating the ISS to 2030:

In his opening statement at a House space subcommittee hearing on the past and future of NASA's space exploration efforts, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the subcommittee, said he was introducing legislation called the Leading Human Spaceflight Act that he said was designed to "provide further congressional direction to NASA."

[...] The proposed extension of the ISS to 2030 in the House bill mirrors language in the Space Frontier Act introduced in the Senate in July. That bill was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee Aug. 1 and awaits action by the full Senate.

That's more time with which we could send BFRs to the ISS to move it, swap modules, or gently disassemble it.

Previously: Can the International Space Station be Saved? Should It be Saved?
Trump Administration Plans to End Support for the ISS by 2025


Original Submission

Trump Administration Plans to End Support for the ISS by 2025 37 comments

A draft budget proposal would end support for the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025. The U.S. was previously committed to operating at the ISS until 2024:

The Trump administration is preparing to end support for the International Space Station program by 2025, according to a draft budget proposal reviewed by The Verge. Without the ISS, American astronauts could be grounded on Earth for years with no destination in space until NASA develops new vehicles for its deep space travel plans.

The draft may change before an official budget request is released on February 12th. However, two people familiar with the matter have confirmed to The Verge that the directive will be in the final proposal. We reached out to NASA for comment, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Also at the Wall Street Journal.

Related: Five Key Findings From 15 Years of the International Space Station
Congress Ponders the Fate of the ISS after 2024
NASA Eyeing Mini Space Station in Lunar Orbit as Stepping Stone to Mars
NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station
Russia Assembles Engineering Group for Lunar Activities and the Deep Space Gateway
Can the International Space Station be Saved? Should It be Saved?


Original Submission

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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @05:57AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @05:57AM (#621274)

    Pocket Shit Racers: 2018 Edition. They're zippin' and zoomin' through the sewers and getting sucked directly into your target's asshole! Wow! Look at that. More portable than ever. Just shoot these feces racers directly up someone's ass! What great fun!

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:01AM (#621276)

    1. Send it to Pyongyang. I hear Kim is interested in advanced space-related technology. Let's give him some.

    2. Send it to Mecca. See if we can get it to mostly land in that big black wastebasket. To help study the effects of disasters like when our space shuttle burned up, we'll need to add a pig and record video. (transmit after dropping below hypersonic, but before impact)

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by PinkyGigglebrain on Friday January 12 2018, @06:08AM (12 children)

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Friday January 12 2018, @06:08AM (#621278)
    they should keep the modules the solar panels are attached to in orbit so they could possibly be used by some other mission. Maybe even send them on a low energy trajectory into Lunar orbit so they can be used if anyone actually goes back there in the next couple decades. Considering how much was spent getting the panels into orbit it really seems like such a waste of an orbital power supply.

    But considering what the powers that be let happen to Skylab [wikipedia.org] back in the day I'm not going to hold my breath for anything more than a nice light show as the ISS burns up somewhere over the Pacific.
    --
    "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
    • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:11AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:11AM (#621279)

      Did you hear that "Pew!" sound when you were sitting down in your car? It was the sound of a stick of toy gum with eyes and a fancy mustache and haircut shooting a piece of itself into your asshole. Prepare for tickle as it bounces around inside your bootyasscheekcrackhole!

      Wow! It just asked, "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant anooooooooooooooooooooootheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer?"

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by driverless on Friday January 12 2018, @10:06AM (9 children)

      by driverless (4770) on Friday January 12 2018, @10:06AM (#621323)

      Somewhat unrelated, but does this really count as a true space station? It's a pile of random modules bolted together, not what I'd really think of as a space station. We're still decades away from one of those, if not longer.
      My guess is that I won't see a genuine space station in my lifetime (sigh).

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by takyon on Friday January 12 2018, @10:17AM (8 children)

        by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday January 12 2018, @10:17AM (#621324) Journal

        It's a "third generation" modular space station.

        They were able to keep adding new modules as needed and do some useful stuff because of that. They were able to inhabit it while it was still being built.

        BEAM [wikipedia.org] didn't exist before the space station went up. But because of the modular design, it was easy to attach it. Future space stations won't have to be so cramped because you can just attach a B330 [wikipedia.org] inflatable module anywhere space/design permits.

        I don't see the modular design going away anytime soon, and I don't understand the criticism. Do you not see the advantages? Are you looking for the Stanford torus [wikipedia.org] as seen in Elysium? Well, you'd better start funding the Interplanetary Transport System because a "real" space station would have a multi-trillion dollar cost.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 2) by driverless on Friday January 12 2018, @10:27AM (7 children)

          by driverless (4770) on Friday January 12 2018, @10:27AM (#621327)

          The torus is kinda overkill, I don't have any fixed image of what it should be since everyone will have their own preference, just something a bit more sophisticated than a bunch of modules bolted together.
          OK, the one from 2001 is what I had in mind at least. It's been half a century since that film was made and we still haven't even got to something like that in orbit. Sunita Williams did run the Boston Marathon in space, but on a totally stationary treadmill, not around the periphery of the station like Frank Poole did.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Friday January 12 2018, @10:33AM (2 children)

            by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday January 12 2018, @10:33AM (#621330) Journal

            Let's see some space cowboys/pirates. Grimy, gritty people interacting with modular and reusable components. Space buccaneers with the ability to detach half your station. Let's see some space mutiny.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Friday January 12 2018, @04:41PM

            by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @04:41PM (#621437) Homepage

            Frank ran around the space ship, not the space station.

          • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Immerman on Friday January 12 2018, @05:29PM (2 children)

            by Immerman (3985) on Friday January 12 2018, @05:29PM (#621456)

            2001? You mean the *double*-torus from the movie? Yeah - the cost of the ISS is going to be a rounding error compared to that for the forseeable future.

            Firstly, it's HUGE - 300m diameter, meaning 942m around. Times two, since there's two tori, so about 1900m of linear space station. In comparison, the ISS would be maybe 150m long if the modules were all aligned end-to-end (not counting solar panels).

            Secondly, if you're not making something out of interlocking modules, then you need to build it in orbit. Which means you need orbital construction infrastructure - assembly and vacuum-tight welding of Earth-made components at the very least. Which means either extremely dextrous robots (probably remote operated via VR would be the most effective method at this point), or humans being paid well enough to do work that's strenuous and moderately dangerous on Earth in an environment that makes it far more strenuous and dangerous.

            Then there's the finishing work - which is actually probably the majority of the construction. After all, you wouldn't want to live in a office building that was only the structural girders and weather-tight shell. That part is really only a minor portion of the overall construction effort - floors, walls, plumbing, electrical,etc,etc,etc - all that needs to be done too, and while it's a lot safer now that you have an airtight shell around you, it's no less strenuous.

            Basically, modularity means you can build the components here on Earth, where things are simple, safe, and we have a huge existing infrastructure, and then just plug them in in orbit. And now the BEAM inflatable modules have been proven spaceworthy, and we'll hopefully soon have the BFR that can handle really huge payloads for the first time since the Saturn V was launched in 1973, so that much larger modules can be launched. Basically life is looking good for modularity.

            Honestly, I don't really understand your objection - even Earthside construction is moving more and more towards modularity. It makes construction considerably faster and cheaper when you can just do minimal assembly of standardized factory-produced components. Lego was on to something.

            As for tori -a torus absolutely makes sense if you're looking to live in orbit, rather than have a useful microgravity lab that you happen to live in. Right now there's not a lot of call for that - I mean, what would be the point? You spend an outlandish amount getting to orbit, and then have accelerations and Coriolis effects interfering with everything you went to orbit to achieve. But hey, you get that sweet view and radiation bombardment while you're there!

            When we are ready though - then I expect to see tori become quite popular. But I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them still being made modularly for quite some time. Picture a bunch of Bigelow inflatable modules, as large as you like, daisy-chained into a ring with angled connectors, with a carbon fiber net around the outside to supply the necessary tension to keep it from ripping itself apart as you spun it up to speed. The advantage being that you can build such a station practically overnight in any size that you like, using standardized modules into which standardized interiors can be installed to suit your specific needs. And if any module fails beyond the value of repairing it, well you just hop down to the store and buy a replacement, and transfer over all the sub-modules that are still in good working order.

            Actually constructing a space station in place is one of those things I doubt will become appealing until we've got asteroid mining and manufacturing facilities working smoothly - at which point it starts making sense to use the available materials right where they are. Giant cast-iron pressure vessels or what have you. Even then though, I suspect compatibility with standard modular components would be a high priority, because why would you want to cut yourself off from all those readily available components for future expansion on down the road?

            As an analogy, integrated proprietary smart phones have become quite popular for convenience, but modular PCs aren't going anywhere for serious workhorse applications. And even the mobile devices are chock full of standardized modular components, even if they are all soldered into a proprietary skeleton and skin that prevents you from being able to upgrade them or replace failed components. And while you van get away with that for a $300 phone, or even a $1000 one with enough marketing, it starts looking like a much worse deal for a piece of multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure that you hope will last for at least at east a few decades, and maybe even centuries or more.

            • (Score: 2) by fyngyrz on Friday January 12 2018, @08:02PM (1 child)

              by fyngyrz (6567) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @08:02PM (#621524) Homepage Journal

              assembly and vacuum-tight welding of Earth Space-made components

              FTFY.

              Until we can collect and refine and manufacture in space, without playing 2nd fiddle to the earth's gravity well with rockets, barring a beanstalk, this stuff is simply not happening.

              Besides, we have to make war on countries of no significant strategic interest to us. That costs serious money. Trillions. Because congress absolutely insists on fluffing the military industrial complex. Auntie Sarah needs that real estate deal real bad.

              --
              The eyes are the windows to the soul.
              Sunglasses are the window shades.
              • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday January 12 2018, @09:03PM

                by Immerman (3985) on Friday January 12 2018, @09:03PM (#621561)

                You left out "... at the very least". As in it's not even *possible* to build a one piece space station without at least that much, no matter how much money you're willing to spend.

                I quite agree it's probably not financially feasible until we're making the components in space as well - though who knows what may happen with the BFR and its successors. Still, I suspect we'll be making at least the bulk components in space before we're making whole space stations.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday January 12 2018, @02:35PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @02:35PM (#621384)

      they should keep the modules the solar panels are attached to in orbit so they could possibly be used by some other mission.

      "Do you realize what an insane plan that is?" said the CEO of a leading aerospace company. "Any junior MBA knows that destroying what is already in orbit is the best way to generate new sales for a replacement." Senator "Greenbacks" added "We've got to keep Jobs in my district, and forcing the government to needlessly spend taxpayer money on expensive projects that help giant corporations is what is best for my district, or so I am told.".

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:17AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:17AM (#621282)

    Nuke it from the orbit, it's the only way to ... fuck you say?! it's ON the orbit?

    Nuke the fucking orbit then.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:47AM (#621291)

      "It was we that scorched the sky."

  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:29AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @06:29AM (#621290)

    I just watched Valerian, and it was such a cool movie, for people who are still teenagers, and don't realize there are actual consequences for sticking pearly balls ups the anus of your pets, that, yes, as per the Movie "Valerian" (which is a root, by the way), we need to launch the ISS out of earth orbit into interstellar space, so they can make this really, really, bad movie about it, in the future. And hopefully, we will never have to actually watch it. Please. Help humanity out here, if you have any influence at all! Please!!

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Friday January 12 2018, @06:57AM (22 children)

    by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @06:57AM (#621292)

    Why intentionally destroy it? Is there a cost involved in letting it stay aloft -- does it need propellant to maintain orbit? If there is no cost to leaving it there, why not just abandon it so that others could use it?

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @07:08AM (12 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @07:08AM (#621293)

      does it need propellant to maintain orbit?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station#Orbit [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @07:32AM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @07:32AM (#621297)

        If it won't be occupied, use the extra power to drive an ion engine.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:13AM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:13AM (#621300)

          They can solve this by putting it at the moon where they want a station anyway and there is no station-keeping needed.

          • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Friday January 12 2018, @06:18PM (3 children)

            by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday January 12 2018, @06:18PM (#621473)

            I don't think you realize just how low of an orbit ISS occupies. Getting the whole thing to the moon would take dozens of launches for just the propellant.

            --
            "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
            • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bob_super on Friday January 12 2018, @07:36PM

              by bob_super (1357) on Friday January 12 2018, @07:36PM (#621505)

              But raising it a few hundred km would reduce the orbital decay to the point where an ion-engine fed by plasma made from non-recyclable stuff would keep it up forever (ish).

              It's too low because of the Space Shuttle, and it's on a weird orbit because of Baikonour. One is gone, the other should not be a requirement by 2028.

              "Just" push it up continuously.

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday January 14 2018, @01:15AM (1 child)

              by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Sunday January 14 2018, @01:15AM (#622032) Journal

              This is where something like the BFR would come in handy. Greater payload than SLS Block 2 or Saturn V even in fully reusable mode, designed for in-orbit refueling and complete reusability. Expected to be cheaper than a Falcon 9 launch (every Falcon 9 chucks the second stage into the ocean).

              BFR might fly by 2024, certainly by 2028.

              --
              [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
              • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Thursday January 18 2018, @09:27PM

                by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday January 18 2018, @09:27PM (#624410)

                Then we wouldn't need to save the ISS. We could simply launch a new (bigger) space station with a single BFR.

                --
                "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:47AM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:47AM (#621309)

        Wouldn't it be better to put it in a Lagrangian point? That way it would be easier salvageable in the future.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday January 12 2018, @08:56AM (1 child)

          by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday January 12 2018, @08:56AM (#621310) Journal

          If we want humans in it, it should probably be sent to the Moon which is closer than any of the Lagrangian points. Humans could evacuate the station back to Earth or to a habitat/shelter on the lunar surface. We are already planning to put a space station in lunar orbit. Even if the entire thing can't be reused in the Deep Space Gateway, newer modules like BEAM could be easily reused.

          The Moon has "frozen orbits" [wikipedia.org] that could allow objects to orbit "indefinitely".

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 4, Touché) by maxwell demon on Friday January 12 2018, @06:03PM

            by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @06:03PM (#621466) Journal

            If we want humans in it, it should probably be sent to the Moon which is closer than any of the Lagrangian points.

            There is a Lagrangian point between Earth and Moon. Granted, it is unstable, but it is certainly closer to Earth than the Moon.

            --
            The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Friday January 12 2018, @08:57AM (1 child)

          by c0lo (156) on Friday January 12 2018, @08:57AM (#621311)

          Not enough power to put it on a higher (low drag) orbit and you want it on a lagrangean.

          • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday January 12 2018, @07:51PM

            by bob_super (1357) on Friday January 12 2018, @07:51PM (#621514)

            Doesn't Superman owe the US a few billions after flattening half of the city?

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Friday January 12 2018, @09:01AM

          by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday January 12 2018, @09:01AM (#621313) Journal

          Ok, there is this proposal:

          The Exploration Gateway Platform [wikipedia.org], a discussion by NASA and Boeing at the end of 2011, suggested using leftover USOS hardware and 'Zvezda 2' [sic] as a refuelling depot and service station located at one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points, L1 or L2.

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    • (Score: 5, Informative) by frojack on Friday January 12 2018, @07:24AM (3 children)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @07:24AM (#621294) Journal

      Some 200 million dollars worth of fuel per year.
      ISS actually orbits in the far upper reaches of the atmosphere, because resupply missions would be much more expensive if it was much higher.

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      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:15AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:15AM (#621301)

        Some 200 million dollars worth of fuel per year.

        Because it it costs $10/kg to sent it up there. In 10 years, maybe it will cost $10m for fuel... but in reality, it's not the fuel that is causing all the problem. It is the deterioration of the outer shell due to micrometeorites and general aluminum fatigue. So yes, ISS will have to burn just like MIR did not so long ago. But maybe not, we'll see.... it's really thanks to SpaceX reusable rockets that we can even think of alternate scenarios than no space program at all.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Friday January 12 2018, @08:28PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @08:28PM (#621541) Journal

          It is the deterioration of the outer shell due to micrometeorites and general aluminum fatigue.

          You say this as if it was common knowledge. Yet there have been no such claims in the press.

          And Beam Modules [nasa.gov] made of multiple layers of flexible Kevlar-like materials have been holding up far better than expected.

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      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday January 12 2018, @06:24PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday January 12 2018, @06:24PM (#621474)

        ISS actually orbits in the far upper reaches of the atmosphere, because resupply missions would be much more expensive if it was much higher.

        I wonder if fewer resupply missions would be needed if it was much higher, because of less drag. Of course, they probably already did the analysis of that and found its current position to be optimal in terms of cost, leading them to choose the current LEO altitude.

        It's too bad they can't just build some nuclear rockets and use those for station-keeping; then they wouldn't need resupply missions for fuel. (They'd still need them for other supplies though, and crew changes.)

    • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday January 12 2018, @03:56PM (3 children)

      by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday January 12 2018, @03:56PM (#621409)

      Last I knew, it's still impossible to keep something absolutely and perfectly on station though one can get hyper-close. Everything from solar weather to the Earth's magnetospheric activity can affect it a little bit. (I'm happy to be told I'm wrong about that... but I don't think I am).

      The thing that nobody wants to happen is someday it becomes a problem that must be addressed because it's no longer maneuverable and its orbit decays; with an object of that mass I'd think there'd be some risk for uncontrolled deorbiting of it. Not if it can be safely deorbited under control and end of mission life.

      Then you have the "Gravity" problem [soylentnews.org] - the movie seemed unrealistic but the object would sit there just waiting for something else to slam into it and cause a greater debris field. We already have enough Space Junk in orbit. And components do age and expire - even physical structures.

      None of which isn't to say that if elements can be reasonably recycled (the Russians seem to have plans along that line) it shouldn't be left there. It's not a bad idea - William Gibson had a short story in Burning Chrome about people living in orbit on derelicts... But unless some definable purpose exists for it I'd think it is best it is brought down safely.

      • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Friday January 12 2018, @03:59PM

        by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Friday January 12 2018, @03:59PM (#621411)

        Crap... links got blown all to hell. "Gravity" problem was supposed to reroute to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessler_syndrome [wikipedia.org] and Space Junk was supposed to go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_debris [wikipedia.org] - sorry!

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday January 12 2018, @08:37PM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @08:37PM (#621545) Journal

        The thing that nobody wants to happen is someday it becomes a problem that must be addressed because it's no longer maneuverable and its orbit decays; with an object of that mass I'd think there'd be some risk for uncontrolled deorbiting of it. Not if it can be safely deorbited under control and end of mission life.

        I don't think that's the problem mos people are worried about.

        There are many docking locations on ISS and, and even un-manned modules are able to dock, latch and boost the station.

        Further, its orbit is so low that without constant boosting, high atmospheric drag will bring it (or the remaining pieces) down eventually. I suspect, you could disassemble it where is it is, deorbit the bigger chunks into the oceans, and let gravity take its course.

        What people worry about is an orderly station abandonment in an emergency. Having life boat capsules available won't help in the case of structural failure and collapse.

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    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Friday January 12 2018, @08:35PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @08:35PM (#621544)

      Here is the legal problem with keeping it up there until it randomly impacts somewheres:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Liability_Convention [wikipedia.org]

      Can't imagine the legal shitstorm if its abandoned, and impacts Iceland or someplace and somehow the USA, Russians, god only knows who else is joint and several liability for damages.

      Imagine if JEM aka Kibo, the Japanese built module, landed on some 3rd party city, this would be like an Apollo or Manhattan scale of project, but for lawyers and paralegals and courtroom reporters. I mean, the Japanese built it, but the USA launched it and didn't deorbit it safely, or are the Japanese to blame for not designing it to deorbit itself or ... ... ...

      Interestingly under the SLC once there's no humans on board any launch nation could use it for ASAT target practice under the doctrine of trying to reduce their liability, even if all the other launch nations want to keep it in orbit. So if the Russians or the USA want to blast something, there's not much everyone else can do about it legally.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday January 12 2018, @10:18AM (11 children)

    by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday January 12 2018, @10:18AM (#621325) Journal

    Crash it into the moon. The resulting scrap / slag on the surface might be very useful to a future moonbase: Many elements are scarce up there, having a known source of them might be handy.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Friday January 12 2018, @10:29AM (10 children)

      by takyon (881) Subscriber Badge <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Friday January 12 2018, @10:29AM (#621329) Journal

      Having an intact pressurized module would also be handy. Why not just land it on the Moon's surface? It would also keep scarce elements - such as oxygen - from escaping.

      How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years--This Time to Stay [scientificamerican.com]

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      • (Score: 4, Informative) by isostatic on Friday January 12 2018, @11:19AM (8 children)

        by isostatic (365) on Friday January 12 2018, @11:19AM (#621336) Journal

        From LEO, Delta V to the moon is about 6km/s - I think that would be a soft landing. Delta V to LLO which I'd assume could be a lunar impact is about 4km/s. Delta V to land on earth is about 0.1km/s.

        So you'd need 40 times the delta-V to crash the ISS into the moon, and 60 times to land it.

        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @03:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @03:17PM (#621397)

          Youve been playing too much kerbels :D

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday January 12 2018, @03:35PM (6 children)

          by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday January 12 2018, @03:35PM (#621402) Journal

          If your idea of a "soft landing" for a house-sized object not designed to land on anything, ever touching down on a rocky, hostile surface is 100 metres per second then remind me never to fly with you. Or drive. Hell, I'm not sure I'd trust you with a skateboard.

          More seriously, I had assumed that landing it would be prohibitively difficult. I guess you might be able to remove the modules and ferry them down one by one aboard some specially designed lunar shuttle. Seems like inflatable habitats would be a far better RoI though.

          • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Friday January 12 2018, @06:26PM (4 children)

            by Grishnakh (2831) on Friday January 12 2018, @06:26PM (#621475)

            We need to just build a Space Elevator on the moon. On Earth, it isn't really feasible at this time because of the tensile strength needed, plus some other factors (atmospheric problems, etc.). But on the Moon, it's totally feasible; the gravity is far less so the material strength is easily achievable, and there's no atmosphere to get in the way.

            • (Score: 2) by dry on Friday January 12 2018, @11:11PM (3 children)

              by dry (223) on Friday January 12 2018, @11:11PM (#621599) Journal

              How long would a lunar space elevator have to be? Geostationary or rather Selenastationary orbit is 250,000 odd miles (the Earth is stationary).
              Perhaps a Lagrange point? 56000 km to L1 and 67000 to L2, or about double with no counter weight. According to wiki, a 1000kg counterweight means an extra 26000km for L1, so about 82000km. L2 is worse, 120000km total with a 1000kg counterweight.
              It does seem possible with current commercial materials but still a cable as long as 3+ times around the Earth, climbers to traverse it, etc sounds like a huge engineering job.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_space_elevator [wikipedia.org]

              • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Saturday January 13 2018, @12:15AM (1 child)

                by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday January 13 2018, @12:15AM (#621624)

                It's not a trivial project, obviously, but it's probably the easiest space elevator we could build in a place where we have an interest. Mars has twice the gravity, Earth is out for now because the gravity is so high (and other problems), etc. The only place easier would be something like Ceres, but that's even farther away than Mars so there's logistical problems with that. The Moon is right next door, we have a lot of interest in doing things there, and the gravity is lower than all the other planets in the inner system, so it's the obvious first step for building a space elevator.

                • (Score: 2) by dry on Saturday January 13 2018, @03:00AM

                  by dry (223) on Saturday January 13 2018, @03:00AM (#621660) Journal

                  Still be easier to use a linear accelerator on the Moon. I guess for practice it would work, build the linear accelerator to put your building materials in the L1 spot and start building. Any which way, it is going to take quite a bit of lunar industry to do.

              • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Saturday January 13 2018, @08:24PM

                by isostatic (365) on Saturday January 13 2018, @08:24PM (#621921) Journal

                It would necessarily help get an object in LEO to land on the moon. Delta V from LEO to Lagrange 2 is still 330m/s, 3 or 4 times more than de-orbiting it. If we had 330m/s of delta V then why not park the station at EML2?

          • (Score: 2, Insightful) by nitehawk214 on Friday January 12 2018, @06:54PM

            by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday January 12 2018, @06:54PM (#621489)

            The real problem is the "60 times" delta-V. That is a hell of a lot of fuel and expense. The reason they want to de-orbit the thing is that it is too expensive to maintain.

            --
            "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @09:02PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @09:02PM (#621560)

        Oxygen is the most common element on the moon.

        Of course that is because the surface is mostly SiO2.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @01:56PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @01:56PM (#621364)

    The purpose of the International Space Station was to give jobs to the old Soviet aerospace engineers after the Soviet Union fell apart so they wouldn't have to seek employment from rogue states and create more ICBM (missile) possessing nations.

    Well, Russia is no longer in that same state and they are back to their old pattern of trying to destabilize the West. There is no more use for the ISS.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @02:09PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @02:09PM (#621372)

      And yet the U.S. and Russia have agreed to work on the Deep Space Gateway together.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Friday January 12 2018, @02:42PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @02:42PM (#621385)

        Russia needs to keep the US from seeing them as an outright enemy while Russia further attempts to manipulate and destabilize the US. Working together on expensive projects helps further that objective.

        Power corrupts. Absolute power tweets absolute crazy.

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        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:22PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @08:22PM (#621537)

          OMG Russians! Marx! Stalin! Gorbachev! Putin! Donald Trump!

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday January 12 2018, @08:44PM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @08:44PM (#621550) Journal

        The purpose of the Deep Space Gateway is to provide jobs to the American ex-NASA engineers (who've been made redundant by SpaceX, and ULA, and Blue Origin) so as to prevent them from having to go to work assembling Tesla automobiles, or building missiles for Uncle Kim in North Korea.

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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13 2018, @02:09AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13 2018, @02:09AM (#621641)

          Your last statement is *cUcKoO* !!!!

    • (Score: 1) by linkdude64 on Saturday January 13 2018, @01:07AM

      by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 13 2018, @01:07AM (#621631)

      Actually it seems like the West itself and Mid-East are trying to destabilize the West. When was the last Russian terrorist attack in your country? I have not heard of a single one in any Western country in recent memory. I have heard of several mid-eastern attacks, the responsibility of which lies squarely on the shoulders of the politicians who allow those folks into the countries in question.

      No karma bonus for OT post.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @02:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 12 2018, @02:14PM (#621378)

    There are a lot of different pieces up there, with supposedly universal connectors.
    It might be possible to cherry pick a subset of the parts and make something smaller to boost into a higher orbit.
    But before thinking about how to do that, aside from continuing the money stream, why would you want to do that?

    This seems like a job for Kerbal to find a possible mission.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Friday January 12 2018, @08:46PM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 12 2018, @08:46PM (#621554)

    Funding by the various space agencies involved is only agreed until 2024.

    The budgeting process is not widely understood.

    Take for example this budget from '05 (13 years ago)

    https://web.archive.org/web/20041101162122/http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/55411main_28%20ISS.pdf [archive.org]

    That budget plan only goes until '09 but that doesn't mean the station was deorbited in '09 or '10.

    Even if we were going to keep it around "forever" like our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, "we" as of 2017 or 2018 would never budget ahead much further than 2022 anyways, plus or minus a couple years.

    Its really a story clickbaiting intentionally mixing two things, the very non-ominous normal budgeting procedure, with human fatalism and realization of mortality such that the thing will get deorbited someday and technically despite the clickbait-y-ness of the original story, ashes to ashes and dust to dust and it'll get deorbited someday surely, although surely not until 2024 at least, supposedly.

    I guess the best way to put it is there is no formal budget plan to fund the Washington Monument past a couple years from now, and I'm sure some army corps of engineers have a wargame plan to safely demolish it in case of catastrophic damage buried deep in some vault, but that does not imply that in precisely four years its getting the bulldozer. Just that the budget is only planned out the penny for a couple years in the future and there does exist a plan to safely demolish it if it ever became necessary. Now tourist fans of the Washington Monument could be click baited into reading a fantastic story implying the monument is getting bulldozed in the fall of 2022, but ...

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