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ISS NASA

International Space Station Mission Extended To 2024 104

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the and-hopefully-longer dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that funding has been secured for the ISS through at least 2024. From NASA: "'...We are pleased to announce that the Obama Administration has approved an extension of the International Space Station until at least 2024. We are hopeful and optimistic that our ISS partners will join this extension effort and thus enable continuation of the groundbreaking research being conducted in this unique orbiting laboratory for at least another decade. ... A further benefit of ISS extension is it will give NASA and its private-sector partners time to more fully transition to the commercial space industry the transportation of cargo and crew to low-Earth-orbit, allowing NASA to continue to increase its focus on developing the next-generation heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule necessary for deep-space exploration."
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International Space Station Mission Extended To 2024

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  • by zixxt (1547061)

    Yes! Thats All.

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      Surprised he didn't privatize it.
    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      Good news for the Russian Space Agency. They get to ferry Americans up to space for at least another 10 years.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        Good news for the Russian Space Agency. They get to ferry Americans up to space for at least another 10 years.

        I wouldn't be so quick [wikipedia.org] to make that assumption [wikipedia.org]. There are certainly other vehicles [wikipedia.org] which can take people to the ISS besides the Soyuz spacecraft, and one of which will be flying within the decade. I would even suggest all three will be flying routinely.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @09:33AM (#45906189)

    "If you like your space station you can keep your space station."

    Let's hope Obama wasn't kidding this time.

  • Thanks Big O! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @09:37AM (#45906219)
    Thanks for spending my money on something I actually can get behind instead of just spending it on tracking my phone calls, funding terrorist organizations and god knows what else.

    Maybe you can keep this up and we can have a real science budget in the USA.
    • I agree on this topic

      An intangible benefit is it has the potential to produce something like this which will make a young kid say "WOW" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOC9danxNo [youtube.com]

      Getting the next generation interested in space is something that I see as nothing but a positive
      • I was going to post exactly this comment. A single video like that could be (indirectly) responsible for countless discoveries made down the line by the next generation of kids who get interested in science because space is awesome.

        -AndrewBuck

  • by lazarus (2879)

    Too bad, I was hoping to buy it and become Waldo [wikipedia.org].

    On a more serious note, I don't see the ISS as a single "thing" that can/should be abandoned or destroyed. It is a collaborative effort of many people and many nations and is designed to be built upon and "developed". Like a new community. I'm hoping that we as a species find the right combination of profitability and marketability from it to ensure it is still in the sky long after I'm dead and buried. Perhaps we should start thinking of it as more of a

    • The problem with that is that space is a bitch of an environment to maintain something as complex as the ISS over time. Unless you're only looking at another decade or two of life, you'll probably see it reach the point where it's cheaper and easier to build a new space station, moonbase or Mars base than it is to continue maintaining the ISS. There's also few practical options for preserving it as a piece of history, no matter how cool that would be.

      • Having a moonbase is so much cooler than the ISS that I could live with that. Otherwise I'm 100% with lazarus, don't let it die!

        • Yeah, a moon base is really cool... until an EXPLOSION sends it hurtling through SPACE.

          • by Buz53 (2828481)

            ... until an EXPLOSION sends it hurtling through SPACE.

            at which point we'll essentially just have a new (unintentional) version of the ISS anyway...so it's all good.

      • by bobbied (2522392)
        Actually, the plan was to refurbish it over time by launching new modules and deorbiting ones that we do not want to maintain any more. That way you can slowly refresh the whole thing. In fact, the Russians already have a plan that uses parts of the ISS that they own as a basis for another totally Russian station more suited for servicing deep space craft and missions.
      • by Dishwasha (125561)

        The problem with that is that <insert market space> is a bitch of an environment to maintain something as complex as the <insert product> over time. Unless you're only looking at another <insert product development lifecycle> or two of life, you'll probably see it reach the point where it's cheaper and easier to build a new <insert product>, <insert product alternative> or <insert alternative to product alternative> than it is to continue maintaining the <insert product>. There's also few practical options for preserving it as a piece of history, no matter how cool that would be.

        That's how I read your post.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      But if Waldo goes to the ISS, it will just become easier to find him [whereswaldo.com]!

    • by Zocalo (252965)
      It is a collaborative effort, and all this does is extend the US' funding for another four years, which I would imagine is a significant chunk of the total costs so this is indeed welcome news. However, the withdrawal of US funding might not actually mean the end of the ISS, it would just fall on the remaining four space programmes in the consortium to continue to support and fund it. One obvious way of doing that would be to bring on board additional partners, whether national space programmes like China
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The US just needs to just sell its ownership share of the station to other governments (and maybe commercial ventures), and let them take it over. Maybe the Chinese would like to buy our part of it. They'd obviously do a much better job with it, since they actually have the ability to think about things more than 4 years ahead, unlike us. Otherwise, we all have to worry about them deorbiting the thing and sending into the atmosphere every 4 years because the US government would rather spend money on NSA

      • Why would a commercial venture buy a chunk of the ISS? I have a hard time thinking anything commercial coming out of it. It is set up to do basic science.

        Government is the customer. Yes, they can contract out to the private sector for things, such as ferrying stuff, but they are the ones ultimately footing the bill.

        • by Zocalo (252965)
          The Russians have sent tourists to the ISS, so why not Virgin Galactic? They could build and send up a habitation module for their tourists in return for allowing the regular crew to use it when they are not, perhaps with a guarantee that would be at least a given percentage of a year. Likewise, I suspect that there are plenty of commercial enterprises would love access to a true zero G lab, and not just those interested in space directly - pharma and metamaterials companies for instance - investing in th
          • by lobotomir (882610)
            Virgin Galactic's suborbital vehicle does not have the capabilities required to reach low Earth orbit, and this is not going to change anytime soon. They would need to charter Falcon rockets from SpaceX or something similar. On the other hand, it is interesting to speculate whether a true space tourism industry is possible. If prices for access to orbit were slashed tenfold, I suppose you could draw on a pool of thousands of clients.
          • by Teancum (67324)

            The Russians have sent tourists to the ISS, so why not Virgin Galactic?

            The company to look at is Bigelow Aerospace [bigelowaerospace.com]. FYI, this company is partnering with Boeing to build a spacecraft [boeing.com] that will carry passengers at a fraction of the price that Space Adventures [spaceadventures.com] is currently charging for that opportunity.

            As for a microgravity lab, note that NanoRacks [nanoracks.com] already provides this service. They are literally open to anybody willing to use their checkbook to purchase a flight spot. This is no longer the time for theoretical rants, but a time to act and do something as the opportunity is h

    • It is a collaborative effort of many people and many nations

      Yes, it's a collaborative international effort and three quarters of the budget has come from the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Space Station is a huge pork barrel; it is a way for NASA/Houston to siphon funds that would better spent on real science. The billions wasted on this would be better spent on robotic missions to Europa and other icy moons plus a Mars Sample Return Mission. The Terrestrial Planet Finder mission would also be a much better use of the money. The real excitement and discovery is happening with robotic probes such as the MSL (Curiousity), not the manned pork.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      Ah, yes, because the unmanned probes are doing such a great job on the experiments where humans are the test subjects. At least those probes, carrying a dozen experiments each, are getting a lot of science done. After all, the ISS crew isn't busy [wikipedia.org] or anything, right?

      • by M1FCJ (586251)

        If it's between funding a thousand MSL-style probes and funding ISS, I'd vote for shutting down ISS. I was never a big fan, it sucks research cash but doesn't actually do much science. It's so bad, ISS people need to find people doing very stupid experiments on it when you can't get time on any of the scientific probes since they're so crowded with research. Just a comparison of the papers released from experiments from ISS vs experiments from any other probe (say, a fringe experiment) like Galex, I'm not e

    • by tiberus (258517)
      So are you saying nothing of use/value has come out of the space program as a whole, or just from the space station itself? Here is just one short list [discovery.com] of the programs value. Okay, not all of it is that valuable.
  • Disappointed
    I was looking forward to the Taco Bell promotions when this thing crashed back to earth
  • NASA should move into a role of supporting commercial space flight. Let players like SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace create the technologies needed. Let the lawyers figure out how to grant property rights on the Moon, Mars, etc. At this point, I'm inclined to view the ISS as a LEO flying turkey.

    • That's an extremely one-sided view of scientific research. The private market only cares about discoveries that can be monetized within the next few years. Any big discoveries that would take too much time, money, or risk get thrown off the table. Those discoveries were usually funded by the government and led to such breakthroughs as going to the moon. At its peak, the U.S. used the combined might of our private AND public sectors to dominate nearly every corner of science and engineering. Now, many p
  • So what do we really get out of the space station? Is it ever going to turn a profit? Has it ever helped produce anything?

    I'm not trying to be critical. I've heard of things like experiments to see whether spiders can still spin webs in 0 G and whether the webs look different. But after many years of hearing about stuff like this, I've never heard a strong explanation put forward as to what is its real tangible benefit. If it is simply to work with other nations in a unique environment, call congress

    • by Anonymous Coward

      ISS is a research platform for studying humans living in spacecraft environment and a training ground for wider industrialization of space. It is an investment in future economy.
      If there was no ISS in LEO, private space industry would have no easy goals to meet. For instance, there would be no demand for cargo spaceships and they would have to build something much more complex and sensitive, like passenger carrying, or satellite-launching crafts as their first products. When they accumulate experience and k

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      What it's doing is unprofitable, but at least it's getting used. The DoD's spending on advanced weapon systems with no practical applications beyond fighting a land war with an inexplicably reassembled and equivalently armed USSR would probably pay for it several times over.

      However it's not something private industry would get into, ever. "Less unprofitable" isn't a business model.

      • He! He! He! But my government project is less unprofitable that your government project.
        • by Sockatume (732728)

          I'm just saying that it's funny that human spaceflight gets as much heat as it does given that the DoD has the economic equivalent of a dozen Apollo programs gathering dust because they were built for a scenario that's never going to happen without a time machine and some sort of Robo Lenin.

          • Actually, I agree with you in principle 100%. Apollo was more fun, more cool and a lot less bloody than the stuff DOD works on. I wasn't making fun of your comment either. I just like your terminology, "less unprofitable." Double negatives are so much fun!
    • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@ n e tzero.net> on Thursday January 09, 2014 @11:20AM (#45907123) Homepage Journal

      When does INL turn a profit? Los Alamos? Amundsen-Scott? Those are all major laboratories doing basic research. The ISS justifiably fits right in there with all of those facilities, and I"m glad that it is treated as such.

      Part of the problem is that the ISS really is incomplete to be able to support the personnel needed to make it really thrive as a research lab. It was supposed to have a crew of six astronauts on board full-time (that was the original design) where two of those astronauts would deal with station keeping duties (at least trading off the equivalent of two astronauts doing that work) while the other four would be doing basic research.

      That hasn't happened The TransHab module [wikipedia.org] in particular is needed to provide additional berthing arrangements (aka sleeping quarters) for the astronauts or at least another lab module that can expand the occupancy as well as one of the other partners (either ESA or NASA) needs to develop another spacecraft to bring astronauts up and down. NASA is working on that [wikipedia.org] so it is just a matter of time.

      Regardless, the ISS is doing some tremendous work right now, and it is disingenuous to suggest that spider webs are the only thing being studied. The number of experiments numbers in the hundreds that have already been completed. You can debate the merit of that research based upon the funding being done, but far less has been done with far more money in other endeavors of government activity. The entire ISS program, including all shuttle launches and training and all of the maintenance costs, is still less than the amount of money spent on air conditioning equipment used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

      As for private stations going into space and trying to duplicate the features of the ISS, I would bet that Robert Bigelow [bigelowaerospace.com] would be willing to help you out if you had a good idea and some funding sources to consider. I agree it would be done much cheaper by private industry, but it already is built... so do you really think it needs to be thrown away and splashed in the Pacific Ocean?

      • Good points. And I realize you may be aware of other experiments you believe are more useful than spiderweb studies, but there really isn't room to list them. One problem is few of these experiments receive much public coverage so people don't know about them. Couldn't NASA list the experiments, what they are trying to find out and if they have been successful? I've considered that there might be some 'National Security related' experiments they aren't going to report on. But I wouldn't think a spacela

        • by Teancum (67324)

          Couldn't NASA list the experiments, what they are trying to find out and if they have been successful?

          NASA does list [nasa.gov] the experiments. They are sorted in multiple directions too (by date, mission, researchers, and alphabetically). None the less, your point that media outlets don't really pay attention to this list is a good one and something that should be done to smack some of these journalists into reality.

          Another really interesting company who is currently sending experiments up to the ISS is Nanoracks [nanoracks.com], a for-profit company partnering with NASA on the ISS who is willing to put literally anybody's exper

          • by khallow (566160)

            None of this stuff I've mentioned would be possible without the ISS.

            I don't know about whether this stuff would be possible, but it'd certainly be cheaper without the ISS, when it were done.

            • by Teancum (67324)

              None of this stuff I've mentioned would be possible without the ISS.

              I don't know about whether this stuff would be possible, but it'd certainly be cheaper without the ISS, when it were done.

              Treatiing the existing ISS structure as sunk costs with the exception of any additional maintenance issues for ongoing development, what kind of costs are we talking about for similar kinds of research currently done on the ISS but performed upon other platforms? I simply disagree with you in regards to the cost being even orders of magnitude cheaper.... and much of that research simply can't be done with single purpose built spacecraft. Even for those experiments which are largely automated, the ISS stil

              • by khallow (566160)

                Treatiing the existing ISS structure as sunk costs

                Can't because the ISS costs almost $2 billion a year just to keep operational. Also, the same sort of bad decision making that led to the Shuttle and the ISS leads to more recent bad decisions such as development of the Space Launch System.

                There's the matter of political hygiene. Let's say I have an apartment and I leave the place a serious mess, with food and stuff lying around. It won't be long before rodents, bugs, and other vermin are squirming through my apartment. But by cleaning up the apartment a

          • I had forgotten the 'experiment in a cube' thing that they were doing now. In some ways ISS has already been "merchandised." Some might want to pay for an experiment in space. Others might want to take a multi-million dollar 'vacation' in space. So I stand corrected in under-estimating the uses they have put ISS to. And glad to hear of it again, really. Thanks!

            A relative of mine used to work at NASA and I became familiar with its budgetary challenges. That NASA could go a long way on a fraction of

          • By the way, I've linked to your link on the experiments. Thanks!
      • by khallow (566160)

        When does INL turn a profit? Los Alamos? Amundsen-Scott? Those are all major laboratories doing basic research. The ISS justifiably fits right in there with all of those facilities, and I"m glad that it is treated as such.

        Indeed, the US has a great tradition of money sinks be it research or the occasional interminable war. Imagine, if you can, how bad it would be if the US were to actually use that money for something useful rather than misemploying eggheads or bombing brown people.

        Regardless, the ISS is doing some tremendous work right now, and it is disingenuous to suggest that spider webs are the only thing being studied.

        I'm sure there's useful stuff being studied. Who knows? It might even some day approach within an order of magnitude of the original cost of the station.

        When I read posts like the above, I have to remind myself that not everyone realizes the ex

  • by bobbied (2522392) on Thursday January 09, 2014 @10:45AM (#45906827)
    They where already planning for the demise of the ISS. They where going to salvage parts that they owned and create their own orbiting platform for deep space exploration. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_Piloted_Assembly_and_Experiment_Complex [wikipedia.org]
  • The US being virtually bankrupt, I wonder where the money will come from.... but then again:

    *slap on forehead* of course. The Fed will just print some *slap on forehead*

  • I hear this all the time about how the ISS is supposed to evolve into this orbital "gas station" for future missions to the moon, Mars, or beyond. The problem with that is the ISS is in the wrong orbit for doing that. To get the ISS project off the ground the orbit was shifted from it's original low angle orbit to a high angle orbit. This higher angle made it cheaper and easier for supply missions from existing Russian launch sites.

    I won't pretend I understand all the physics but I get the general concep

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