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posted by martyb on Friday October 05 2018, @09:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the after-$150-billion,-what's-a-few-billion-more? dept.

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

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  • (Score: 2) by zocalo on Friday October 05 2018, @12:18PM (1 child)

    by zocalo (302) on Friday October 05 2018, @12:18PM (#744587)
    Sure, assuming the remaining countries can actually provide the necessary resources to so. Currently it seems to be mostly the US that is on the fence on extending ISS operations, so if they were to drop out that's going to leave the remaining countries with both a financial and crew candidate deficit they'll need to make up, while they presumably continue to use Roscosmos and contract with Space-X to get supplies and crew back and forth. Maybe they can go it alone, maybe they can't, but if not it was mostly the US that kept China out of the ISS partnership, IIRC, so the US withdrawal might allow for the Chinese to become involved if they wanted to, and India might be willing to participate as well come to that. Not sure that'll go down too well with the US Government in the current political climate though.
    UNIX? They're not even circumcised! Savages!
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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by shrewdsheep on Friday October 05 2018, @12:46PM

    by shrewdsheep (5215) on Friday October 05 2018, @12:46PM (#744590)

    My understanding is that the main issue is the integrity of structural parts of the station. They were initially spec'ed for 2020 but upon inspection they seem to be fine to be relied upon for a bit longer. Once those have to be replaced (the core of the station) it will become very expensive. There is a google techtalk on these issues (no time to dig up the link).