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Getting the Most Out of the Space Station (Before It's Too Late) 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the remember-when-we-let-our-space-program-die dept.
bmahersciwriter writes: NASA administrators are strategizing a push to do more science on the International Space Station in the coming years. The pressure is on, given the rapidly cooling relations between the U.S. and Russia, whose deputy prime minister recently suggested that U.S. astronauts use a trampoline if they want to get into orbit. Aiding in the push for more research is the development of two-way cargo ships by SpaceX, which should allow for return of research materials (formerly a hurdle to doing useful experiments). NASA soon aims to send new earth-monitoring equipment to the station and expanded rodent facilities. And geneLAB will send a range of model organisms like fruit flies and nematodes into space for months at a time.
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Getting the Most Out of the Space Station (Before It's Too Late)

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  • Mother Russia... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mlw4428 (1029576) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @04:08PM (#47205929)
    Ol' Mother Russia should not forget that NASA pays them good monies to send our astronauts into space. Space X is slowly becoming a viable option and American commercialized companies will carry far more weight with NASA than Russia will. Putini should also strongly consider the effects of the US (and US's allies) in implementing trade sanctions and embargos on his nation and how quickly things can go south without a single bullet needing to be fired.
    • The republicans (actually neo-cons and tea*) are doing their utmost to kill private space. As such, these same neo-cons/tea* that claim that Russia is an enemy and that we should not spend 1 B to get 3 private space companies going starting next year, will instead send another 2B to putin to launch us, 3-5B/year until 2025 to build the SLS, and another 2-3 B over the next 5 years to build an engine for ULA's use.
      IOW, Putin can count on the GOP constiting of traitors who will continue to help him.
    • by giorgist (1208992)
      How come the US didn't think the same thing ? You see the US is the one handing out sanctions left right and center and pushing it's allied to follow suit. Europe should not worry, the US will find gas for them ... sure will.
    • by servant (39835)
      When Russian politics are involved, economics take a back seat. Putin thinks he and his country have been snubbed for a long time, and we have given him/them the keys to the kingdom by removing the shuttle from service before having a replacement system available.
  • It always seemed like a mistake to get involved in such a venture with the Russians. Any joint venture with two co-equals with somewhat cold relations seems destined to lead to problems as each side has conflicting goals (sometimes unrelated to the joint venture).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @04:31PM (#47206155)

      It never was really a science project, it was a diplomatic venture. Precisely because of the cold relations between the USA and Russia, the ISS was to showcase how antagonistic nations could set aside their differences to work together for the good of humanity. The ideal was that such a display would encourage other nations and tribes to see their personal conflicts as a little less important in the grand scheme of life. As an observation of wars since the launch of the ISS can show you, it didn't have much of an effect outside the nations that were already getting sick of open warfare.

      If Russia goes through with effectively confiscating the whole project, the RSS (too bad they're not claiming the title "Soviet" like before, "SSS" has a fun ring to it) will change from a sign of cooperation to a sign of Russian ascendency and peerlessness. What, if anything, that changes on the ground is hard to guess at. I'm not even sure most nations or people would notice, it would just be mentioned whenever someone thinks it can be used to shame an opponent in an argument (debate hasn't been the rule of politics in quite some time).

      • by sabri (584428)

        It never was really a science project, it was a diplomatic venture. Precisely because of the cold relations between the USA and Russia, the ISS was to showcase how antagonistic nations could set aside their differences to work together for the good of humanity. The ideal was that such a display would encourage other nations and tribes to see their personal conflicts as a little less important in the grand scheme of life. As an observation of wars since the launch of the ISS can show you, it didn't have much of an effect outside the nations that were already getting sick of open warfare.

        And this is why the Vulcans haven't contacted us yet. It's not about warp drive, it's about a society being civil and evolved beyond internal disputes.

        • by peragrin (659227)

          We will never evolve beyond internal disputes. heck 60% of all marriages end in failures do you really think we can cooperate on a national level over the long term?

          The thing is over time our disputes are getting less violent. we will still have them but in another one or two hundred years we will talk them out instead of shooting. well unless we fall completely back.

          I am not convinced that even aliens attacking us could get current leaders to work together.

          • Just wait til the internet hive mind evolves. A little bit of right wing facism for some genocide and extermination of minorities, prisoners, and the poor. Then they'll wind up the left-wing nanny state factor gradually to slowly erode any concept of privacy, individualism, liberty, or meritocracy. Nobody will know it's happening, they'll all be grooving out to Nicki Minaj, Justin Beiber, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Kesh, Katy Perry, Rihanna, One Direction, Korn, uhh.....or watching 'Real Housewives.'
      • During the cold war, the stakes where high. Now the stakes are low, so both sides are starting to get petty.

        Neither side will allow the diplomatic spat over Ukraine to escalate to all out nuclear war. Conventional military conflict must also be avoided as that contains the implicit threat of an out of control escalation into nuclear war. Thus the game of tit for tat escalation of hostilities progresses in baby steps, we have now escalated from "nasty letters" to economic sanctions. In Soviet Russia economic

    • by Anonymous Coward

      With the constant pettyness and renegging on agreements by the US government, it seems like a very risky business to go into such a venture for the Russians as well.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I disagree, as it is prompting us to work together despite current tensions, and has saved a lot of money. (If we had a cheaper option on hand we'd be doing it by now!)

      This is similar to how people disagree on the Olympics, or the UN as a whole. Some people say "the UN is a sham if Country X is on the human rights committee." I say "what, you think Country X would have better human rights if they weren't on the comittee?"

      • "what, you think Country X would have better human rights if they weren't on the comittee?"

        No, I think they'd have exactly the same (lack of) human rights, but they'd spend a lot less time telling the rest of us that they're a paragon of human rights, what with being on the Human Rights Committee and and all....

      • If we had a cheaper option on hand we'd be doing it by now!

        How do you figure? I'd say that's a tautology, but it can't be because it's just not true.

    • Another mistake was to get involved knowing that we would retire the shuttle and have no means of getting there ourselves.
      • by gordo3000 (785698)

        we got involved in the ISS ages ago. First plans were in the 80s and Russia got involved in 1993 (first piece went up in 1998). And frankly, we are only not seriously talking about decommissioning the ISS because it ran so far over schedule. It should have been at end life before the shuttles.

    • For some reason Russia and the US seem to be able to compartmentalize things like cooperation on space projects. The Russian scientists and engineers have to put up with the same amount of bullshit from their politicians that the US does.

  • Have to laugh at the stupid Russia Deputy prime minister, as if we cant get to space on our own.
    • by johnsie (1158363)
      You can't
  • by sinij (911942) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @04:15PM (#47206011) Journal
    In any direct economic confrontation with Russia US will get impacted a lot less than Russia. This was true during cold war days, this is more so true today. Russia's refusal to provide orbital delivery will only serve one purpose - channel money away from Russian space program toward NASA or Space-X.

    Now, if Russia wanted to negatively impact US, then they'd mass produce tech and sell to anyone/everyone willing to pay. This would remove technological edge from US and enrich Russia.
    • by Uberbah (647458) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @06:13PM (#47206879)

      And that's gas that isn't traded in Russian currency. The U.S. can huff and puff its imperialistic hypocritical fascist coup supporting chest as much as it wants, but it can't do anything of significance as long as giving up Russian energy supplies would throw the continent into a depression. That, and Russia still has it's Security Council veto pen, and recent American efforts to make another round of "regime change" have stalled everywhere but Ukraine.

  • Fruit flies don't live for "months". It's 8 weeks in case you were interested.

    Nematodes last about 2 months, so that one's ok.
    • Fruit flies don't live for "months".

      Normal Earth fruit flies, yes. But on the Space Station, their Space Station fruit flies apparently live much longer. It looks like they have slipped up, and lets us know what they are *really* experimenting on up there. Obviously, a secret space station longevity serum.

      Because they are doing the experimenting up in the Space Station, it probably means that there are still some bothersome side effects, like turning folks into zombies and stuff like that.

  • Easy. Just open all the doors. That'll get just about everything that isn't tied down out.

  • Remember Skylab? [wikipedia.org] It was America's first space station, and lasted 1973-1979 (before it burned up on re-entry). We got a lot of good science out of that station, and maybe it's time we do it again.
  • and Russia whose deputy prime minister recently suggested that U.S. astronauts use a trampoline if they want to get into orbit. Aiding in the push for more research is the development of two-way cargo ships by SpaceX...

    What about aiding the push for better trampolines?

  • "Well, cancelling our programs to save billions better-spent, votewise, on social programs, and paying Rooskies to ferry us up there to build goodwill and keep their scientists and engineers employed in non-terrorist jobs seemed like a good idea at the time."

  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @06:44PM (#47207147)

    before we have a trampoline gap!

    But seriously we can find ourselves in a situation with no space station. Like there is no Shuttle, Orion is decades away, we are depended on Musk to make Dragon2 work. After Apollo there was concern at the time if US would have a manned space program in early 1970s when still debating Shuttle, and it could have been no Shuttle meaning Apollo-Soyuz in 1975 could have been the last time US put people in space. Hear Dale Myers talk about this per MIT OC course in 2005, https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Everyone is spending a lot of time arguing budgets. That's a big chunk of hardware in orbit, c'mon you guys it may not be ideal but it's something.

    • But seriously we can find ourselves in a situation with no space station. Like there is no Shuttle, Orion is decades away, we are depended on Musk to make Dragon2 work. After Apollo there was concern at the time if US would have a manned space program in early 1970s when still debating Shuttle, and it could have been no Shuttle meaning Apollo-Soyuz in 1975 could have been the last time US put people in space. Hear Dale Myers talk about this per MIT OC course in 2005

      sarcasm?

      2005 was before any COTS success, before any SpaceX success, before NASA's Commercial Crew program, ...

      Now Falcon 9 is launching Dragons to ISS and returning them to Earth, there are 3 different companies funded to build human spaceships, an Orion capsule is built and launching on a Delta IV Heavy within a year, and Bezos' Blue Origin is secretly building rockets and spaceships.

  • Centrifugal gravity (Score:5, Informative)

    by werepants (1912634) on Tuesday June 10, 2014 @06:56PM (#47207241)
    The most useful and relevant modules would have been those that can provide artificial gravity - everybody is banking on this for enabling long term space habitation but we have just about zero on-orbit experimental data. If they only do one more thing with the ISS, that would be it. Japan even built a module for this, but it didn't get deployed so it is now just a museum piece.

    For your reading enjoyment:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]
    • What level of gravity do humans need to THRIVE for long periods of time? (That is so that they do not suffer from bone density loss, cardio-muscular problems, etc.) Is it 1/6 gee (moon)? 1/3 gee (mars)? Or will humans need a full 1 gee to live and, eventually, safely REPRODUCE?

      If the answer is humans need a full gee, then we might as well just resign ourselves to limiting our trips into the solar system to quick jaunts and robotic explorers. (While you *might* convince colonists to spend say an hour a day d

  • Instead of running scientific missions such as the Curiosity rover, Europa Clipper, Mars Sample Return, Terrestrial Planet Finder... This is NASA management being hopeless anti-science/pro-pork again.
  • Please, for the love of god, don't let this opportunity go to waste. :)

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