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Space

5 Years of Habitation on the ISS 170

An anonymous reader writes "The International Space Station has marked five years of continuous human habitation. People started living on the station on November 2, 2000. In five years, the station has hosted 97 people from 10 countries, including 3 commercial passengers. It survived through the Columbia accident and the suspension of shuttle flights. The station is a testbed for long-duration missions to live and work on the Moon and Mars."
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5 Years of Habitation on the ISS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:23PM (#13944930)
    Slashdot and a space station are almost indistinguishable.
  • erm.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    "It survived through the Columbia accident"

    You don't generally notice space stations disappearing when a shuttle explodes. You generally see them stay right where they are and continue to be space stations. Very few people would go "oh lets just knock it out the sky, who cares?" when it's the only space based human colony (small though it is).
    • Re:erm.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:32PM (#13945023) Journal
      "You don't generally notice space stations disappearing when a shuttle explodes."

      Of course not, you're too busy watching the shuttle explode!

      Seriously, though, the US shuttle program & the Russian Soyuz program was the only way to service the ISS at the time of the Columbia crash... so grounding the shuttle program presented a real threat to the continuance of human occupation of the ISS, especially considering Russia's fiscal problems at the time.

      So, yes, it is worth mentioning that inhabitance of the ISS continued during the fallout (no pun intended) of the Columbia crash.
      • Re:erm.. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by dubiago ( 841235 )
        I'm pretty sure what they mean is that it's amazing the station is still up there and running after some pretty substantial backsteps in manned spaceflight.

        After Apollo ended, there wasn't much going on. They had Skylab, but in the end no one cared about that and it burned in the atmosphere.

        Then came the shuttle, essentially a pickup truck to ferry parts back and forth to-and-from orbit, including parts for the space station. In many ways, it was a couple of steps backward from Apollo.

        In this case in our ti
    • Re:erm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:41PM (#13945125) Homepage
      Actually it would be reasonable to expect the complete suspension of a major nation's space program to have negative effects on a space station. Skylab, for example, [wikipedia.org] can be directly seen as a casualty of the suspension of America's space program which resulted from the transition to the Space Shuttle. Space stations need active upkeep and visits from crew if they're going to remain in orbit at all. In a hypothetical universe where Russia and America weren't allies in this decade, when the Columbia accident occurred it would have been a serious problem for the space station-- because in the absence of space shuttle flights post-Columbia the flights run by the Russian space program were necessary to keep the thing inhabited.
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:26PM (#13944951)
    I'm trying hard to find a solid list of scientific accomplishments for the mission. So far, I'm finding a handful of research articles [nih.gov] on microgravity-related changes in human physiology. Hopefully there's more.

    I hope the major accomplishment of the ISS isn't just keeping it in orbit.
    • I'm trying hard to find a solid list of scientific accomplishments for the mission.

      How about accomplishments outside of the scientific domain?

      People of all colors, gender and race from more than a dozen nations have floated above our heads like biblical angels in peace and harmony.

      Achieving nothing.

    • "I hope the major accomplishment of the ISS isn't just keeping it in orbit"

      Yes, especially since even that accomplishment seems to be in doubt...

      http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/10/1 9/1449246&tid=160&tid=14 [slashdot.org]
    • Funnily enough the final quote of that article just happens to be:

      [i]"Just the fact that it is up there is a major accomplishment"[/i]
    • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker@@@gmail...com> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:45PM (#13945161) Journal
      Sadly yes, much of the original intent of the space station was lost when we put it in a high orbit designed to make it cheaper for the russians to get there and more expensive for the US to get there. The Russians wouldn't contribute otherwise but I guess this isn't so bad in the long run because due to recent problems, they have been the major players.
    • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:59PM (#13945296) Journal
      from what i understand the building of it is going slower then planed, or is more or less on ice as the shuttle was going to do the majority of the bulk lifts.

      therefor most of the lab space isnt in place yet.

      hell, its running on a skeleton crew right now...
    • And when you look at what few accomplishments there are, consider that a vast amount of research can be done robotically in space for a miniscule fraction of the cost of sending humans. Generally it seems like the research that requires humans in space is only useful towards sending MORE humans into space.
      • The sad part is that you seem to see this as a "Bad Thing" :(

    • An exhaustive list of cutting-edge scientific experiments conducted on the space station:
    • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @11:42PM (#13947825) Journal
      If we are going to survive in space, on the moon, and at mars, we need to be able to do it close by. The ISS is about testing our equipment and know how. Keeping the ship in space is a major accomplishment. We have already determined a number of things from it:

      • The space shuttle does not work as designed. Had we used it to build a moon station, things could have been much worse than it has alreay.
      • The stations recently had O2 problems. The generator for it failed in a big way. Most likely a new design will be sought out.
      • The tin can approach to a space station is expensive. Fortunately, a different design was done in the 90's, that was privatized and will shortly be tested in space. The new station makes heavy use of NASA's work on the ISS to lower its costs. If it proves succesful, it will almost certainly be shipped to the moon and to mars to serve as emergency waypoints/
      • We currently run the station with only 2 ppl. That is due to no escape capsule. Once, we have several CEV that can be used in conjuction with the station, we will probably bumb the crew up to 4-8 ppl (the IIS limit is not resources as much as escape vehicles).
      • In order to survive the trip to mars, we will have to surive in the microgravity for 3-12 months. We need to know what will happen and how to countermand the effect. The station has been hard at work at it.
      • Finally, any real setteling of the moon and mars will have to be multi-national. ISS has shown us where things will go well, and things will go bad.

       
      And that was just a few things.
      • "We need to know what will happen and how to countermand the effect. The station has been hard at work at it."

        The Russians did 12 months long before the ISS came along and at a tiny fraction of the price on Mir. About all thats really come out of all the zero G physiology research is aggressive exercise is important, we didn't need to spend $100 billion to learn that. Build a craft big enough to use a centrifuge for artificial G is the only other option so far. It should be noted if you are going to Mars
        • You really don't need a $100 billion space station to perfect oxygen generators.

          In fact, none of this needed to test an individual piece. And yet, when it was all put together, pieces and systems failed. So yeah, apparently, it has taken a $100 billion space station to show how things will perform.

          Likewise, it took the 80's and the 2000's to show that the shuttle can be blown up if you have bad management in place. Both were the results of bad management, with underlieing engineering issues (in each case,

          • All I can say is you have talent for putting lipstick on a pig. You can try to make it look pretty but its still a pig.

            The rationale you are using is to say we can pour buckets of money in to a hole in space and its ALWAYS JUSTIFIED just because we learned that pouring a hundred billion dollars in to a hole in space is a bad idea.

            The fatal flaw of ISS and Shuttle was simply that the costs were to high, the results to low and the bottomline is the return on investment was TERRIBLE. It would have been REALL
  • No, it isn't (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drhamad ( 868567 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:28PM (#13944970)
    "The station is a testbed for long-duration missions to live and work on the Moon and Mars."

    How is it a test bed for that? Sure, the structure is still up there... I'm pretty sure that isn't the hard part about getting to Mars, or even the moon. The hard part is keeping a human alive in there without resupply, in-gravity exercise, etc. None of which the station helps with.
    • Well, how about gaining real life experience in matter such as: "how can we sustain a habitable environment in outerspace for long periods of time?" From a mechanical engineering point of view a lot is being learned, and if we're not learning (highly doubtful), we're at least verifying that our ideas were sound. We're also learning about what the effects of being couped up in a zero gravity box are on a human being.

      It seems pretty silly to me that somebody would argue that tossing up a working space stati
      • These things are well known and have been for decades, since both the US and Russia have had long term space stations before. The fact is that ISS adds nothing to this, other than doing things on a slightly larger scale.

        Sure, they will be refining the engineering and tweaking designs. Not worth 100 billion dollars, sorry.

  • by technoextreme ( 885694 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:28PM (#13944972)
    Jeez... What's taking so long. Five years and it's not done yet. Here is a better article:
    http://space.com/businesstechnology/051102_techwed _iss_fifthyear.html [space.com]
    • Five years and counting isn't too bad. Some general contractors take that long building stuff on Earth.
    • It's always a problem with construction. Contractors go to other jobs: the painters can't do their work because the trim guys didn't start, the trim guys can't start because the dry wall guys aren't done on time because they had to finish a more important job, etc...

      Hey! I wonder if PBS will have a show in 50 yrs or so called "This Old Space Station". Just imagine the tools that the Norm counterpart will have! Mmmmmmmm, power tools.

  • Yay (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:32PM (#13945015)
    In five years, the station has hosted 97 people from 10 countries

    That comes out around a cool $1 Billion per visitor. And so much has been accomplished. Such a deal.

  • Meh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) <shadow.wrought@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:33PM (#13945038) Homepage Journal
    Ask yourself this, when you think of the ISS are you filled with pride, satisfaction, or a general, meh. Yep, it is the most expensive "meh" in history.
  • by hcob$ ( 766699 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:42PM (#13945137)
    Think of all the "space-age" technology you have today. Your cell phone, compact radios, great insulation, etc etc. All that was developed from technologies made for the original moon-shot. Expecting benefits from pure research and development in 5 years is insane. Although the station does suck allot of money, it will pay off in the future in new synthesis technologies, habitat sustainability, launch, and commumication technologies.
    • No, actually all of those technologies came from pre-moon shoot technology. Dont give me any garbage about super insulation, nobody uses that. EM was built for satillites, and they were all working much before we landed anyone on the moon (or even started with man occupied orbits)

      The ISS was supposed to be better than the Russian Space Station, but it's been more of a political celebrity travel destination than a research center. We made the station to friendly, while making it too small. Would you even
    • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:00PM (#13945297)

      Think of all the "space-age" technology you have today. Your cell phone, compact radios, great insulation, etc etc. All that was developed from technologies made for the original moon-shot.

      And think of how much more advanced it would all be if we'd poured the funding for space exploration into those technologies directly instead of waiting for spin-offs.

      The spin-off argument is a non-starter. If you want fancy mobile phones, throw the research money into mobile phones. If you want better insulation, throw the research money into insulation. If you want to justify space research, then justify it based on how well it accomplishes its intended goals, not on the tech you might be able to scavenge from it for other purposes.

      • Yeah. NASA's entire budget, every single penny, could be redirected to DARPA/NIS/any other basic research supporting agency and we'd get more of what we want (applied technology and basic science breakthroughs) with less of the pissing billions of dollars into the void. $100 billion dollars it cost us to keep that rickety bucket of bolts up in orbit. ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS. One tenth of one percent of that would kickstart research on any number of causes. Call it the Space Program Memorial Challen

      • The only defense of this practice is that it would have been hard to convince the US government to pour $5 billion dollars into cell phone research in the 60's. If the only way these things get invented / discovered / improved is to fund space research, and then wait for the spin-offs... then so be it. Plus, we get the added benefit of going to space.

        Or something like that.
    • But there's a fundamental difference between the Apollo-era technology developments and the modern ISS efforts. For Apollo, nothing existed. The problems were largely unknown. Folks tooks lots of risk, and they were very creative with their solutions.

      The ISS is all about risk avoidance, and all the technology developed for the ISS is being created within well-known bounds and limits. Want to fly an experiment on the ISS? It needs to be made from space-rated materials (i.e. stuff we already have and k
  • by leighklotz ( 192300 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @04:59PM (#13945292) Homepage
    The ARRL [arrl.org] reports:
    ...Five years ago this week, the International Space Station Expedition 1 crew of US astronaut and Expedition 1 Commander William ''Shep'' Shepherd, KD5GSL [qrz.com], and Russian cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR [qrz.com], became the first humans to live aboard the ISS.

    The initial Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) station gear was already aboard the space station by the time the first crew launched. Later in the month, the Expedition 1 team installed and activated the VHF gear on FM voice and packet under the US call sign NA1SS [qrz.com] and the Russian call sign RS0ISS [qrz.com].

    Each of the 12 crews that have lived on the ISS to conduct assembly and research activities has included at least one US radio amateur. The Expedition 12 crew Commander Bill McArthur, KC5ACR [qrz.com], and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev will remain on the ISS until next April. Over the years, crew members have conducted nearly 200 ARISS [www.rac.ca] school group contacts and numerous casual QSOs.
    • Okay, so what did they do, other than being "hams in space" and novelty contacts for average amateur radio operators? Did they handle any emergency traffic during recent natural disasters such as Earthquakes, the Tsunami, or hurricanes?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "International Space Station has marked five years of continuous human habitation."

    And I bet it smells like it too.
  • I think maybe part of the underlying "meh" to the ISS is the fact that it is so fragile. People think of space stations as self sustaining settlements in space and the fact that people are staying over night in space is not enough to fulfill that image. If you are feeling down, just realize that the ISS is a necessary step to that dream of the self-sustained space city.
  • by Crispix ( 864691 ) on Thursday November 03, 2005 @05:26PM (#13945547)
    5 years? Big deal? Chris Kraft (former "Flight" in the early days of NASA) summed it up in his autobiography: the space shuttles, the space stations, they are all a cop-out and pretty much a waste of time. We should be on the moon, on Mars, not wasting time in low orbit! We already know how to stay in orbit with a zillion satellites and launches under our collective belts. We need to get back to the hard stuff.
    • I agree...for the money wasted on shuttles and the space station, we could have had a lunar colony, or a manned Mars mission...either of which would have been vastly better use of the funds.
  • ... the whole is a massive waste of time and money.

    Except there's spinoff - literally and figuratively.

    Yo, peep dis: http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/ [nasa.gov]

  • Is that really 5 years of continuous habitation? I seem to remember not too long ago that it was temporarily closed and then reopened by a crew that checked the air etc. Is this a phantom memory or is somebody having fun with revisionist history? Doesn't the definition of continuous require a warm body to be there constantly?

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