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It's possible the ISS could have its mission extended from 2015 up to 2020

The nations collectively working on the International Space Station (ISS) are mulling over the possibility of extending its mission life through 2020, it has recently been reported.

More than 20 years of development and $100 billion of research funds have been invested into the ISS by the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, European Space Agency (ESA), and several other partners.  The participating countries expected the ISS to work through 2015, but decided further research could take place at the space outpost over an additional five years.

The first stage of the ISS was sent into orbit in 1998, as 15 nations came together to advance mankind with expected scientific breakthroughs that could be used on Earth.  A number of major setbacks, including the Columbia space shuttle explosion six years ago, helped delay construction on the ISS -- in fact, Japan hasn't been able to launch its ISS space module until recently.

The ISS won't be completed until late 2009 or sometime in 2010 when NASA plans to retire its current generation of space shuttles.  Furthermore, researchers are just now seeing scientific results from using the ISS as a mobile space research laboratory, and the additional five years could be greatly beneficial.

Until NASA is able to launch its next-generation Orion shuttle, the U.S. space agency will be forced to fly to the ISS on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

NASA is currently crunching numbers "in the event the [Obama] administration decided to propose" a possible extension and budget requests for the ISS extension.  The U.S. space agency believes operating the ISS an additional five years doesn't "pose any significant challenges" and the countries involved are "committed to work with their respective governments."

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Around $20 billion a year? I would hope...
By Boze on 4/13/2009 11:06:25 AM , Rating: 5
...that we manage to get more than five to seven years of usage out of a project that cost taxpayers of many different nations $100 billion dollars. I know that figure seems a drop in the bucket given the time frames of construction and the mission life of the ISS compared to the kind of funds being handed out by the American government to corporations nowadays, but still... would be nice to see that thing operating for another, uh, gee, I dunno... 10 to 20 years? We can't squeeze 20 years outta this thing for research? C'mon now...

By Belard on 4/13/2009 3:01:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah... that kind of doesn't make sense.

Spend 10+ years building it, then after 5 years - dump it into the ocean? As long as its in good condition, it should last until it becomes un-usable. It is modular, and yet we're still adding parts here and there... so the OLD parts that are warn out, go ahead and replace it with a new one. The thing has standard docking on the modules for expansion...

So AFAIK, the thing can / should grow as much as its needed.

By drycrust on 4/13/2009 3:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, and to add to that I'm wondering if it is actually safe to have in space. When Skylab came down, some of it actually hit the ground, so I'm wondering how much of the ISS would burn up on reentry.
There are four types of satellite in space: 1) Operational; 2) Junk that will fall to earth; 3) Junk that will stay there forever; 4) Operational that will fall to earth. As I see it, the correct procedure is 1 & 2, not 3 & 4, but 3 & 4 seems to be the current design philosophy. How can you put up a satellite with a design life of 10 years and not think about how to bring it down after 20 years? And how can you think about putting up a satellite which has the potential to be useful for 100 years and yet may fall down and kill people in just 20 years?
OK, I'm not an American tax payer, but to spend that amount of money on a project with such a limited life expectancy seems poor value.

By Tryek25 on 4/13/2009 1:50:24 PM , Rating: 2
I am a staunch supporter of space exploration and the work being done on the ISS. I think it is a stepping stone towards the rest of our solar system but I have a questions for all of you here.

What breakthroughs has the ISS had as a research plataform?

RE: Research
By bluemagic on 4/14/2009 8:16:03 AM , Rating: 3
A way to scan and kill anthrax spores for one.

The only other stuff i have heard of that is being done on the ISS is much research on how to grow veg in 0 gravity which is of course essential research for all future space exploration.

Whatever happens to the ISS
By TMV192 on 4/13/2009 9:38:55 PM , Rating: 2
I just hope it doesn't affect NASA's plans to move forward, building it along with making the overly complex Space Shuttle set us back decades. There will be almost a half century gap between Moon landings despite all the money spent. Back in the 60s they expected to be on Mars during the 80s

RE: Whatever happens to the ISS
By grath on 4/15/2009 4:25:05 PM , Rating: 2
I think it will set back our return to the moon, or at least impede accomplishing anything useful there for a while. Assuming the Orion craft comes online in the 2015ish timeframe, those capsules that are currently allocated for Constellation Program missions will likely be diverted for use as ISS crew rotation and escape craft until 2020. Depending on how reusable they turn out to be, thats a minimum of 2 or 3, and a maximum of 10 Orion capsules for a five year period of ISS duty. Thats how many additional capsules would then need to be built to proceed on track with Constellation. Given the choice between paying for more capsules, or reallocating capsules that have already been budgeted, which do you expect them to do?

By Machinegear on 4/13/2009 3:15:10 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe EA could rent the ISS for research on future space games. Dead Space 2 perhaps? This would bring in much needed revenue for the ISS and a better gaming experience to the customer. Win, win.

Now I am kind'a serious here. The ISS has market potential if only allowed by the government. The tax payer could get some mula on this public asset which in turn could be reinvested into the ISS. Right now, the ISS is a cost center. Now I understand there are a few who pretend that any matter of cost is worth it, fine, but to those who live in the real world of budgets and limited resources, making the ISS 'work' for itself is a good notion. I would suggest if the ISS was operating under this philosophy today its program managers wouldn't have their hands out looking for more tax payer dollars.

Something to think about from a free market point of view.

Good to hear..
By snownpaint on 4/13/2009 3:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
It would be a shame to have the ISS crashed into the ocean short of its full potential or at least it's replacement's arrival. Has NASA learned nothing from the shuttle program funk? Much like the Mir or Hubble, the cost for repairs and renovation is better then trash and replace, to a point.. I like the world exploring space and making things to use up there and down here. like Velcro.. or flawless diamonds.

The way to go?
By GNStudios on 4/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: The way to go?
By austinag on 4/13/2009 12:46:33 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting idea, does the UAW have any authority in space???

RE: The way to go?
By rcc on 4/13/2009 3:53:32 PM , Rating: 2
does the UAW have any authority in space

The UAW doesn't have authority anywhere. What it has is a modicum of power which it is quickly overreaching.

RE: The way to go?
By TMV192 on 4/13/09, Rating: -1
RE: The way to go?
By djc208 on 4/14/2009 7:21:39 AM , Rating: 4
Right, because advanced laser research can't help anyone but the military. Or that useless GPS system the military put up and maintains, it's not like that benefits anyone. The DARPA robotics competitions must have been a huge waste of taxpayer dollars since no one outside the military would want anything to do with autonomous vehicles.

Our military spends a lot of money on a lot of things, not all of which make sense, but like NASA they also spend a lot of money working on devices that have a lot of practical applications. In fact I'd say they probably tie or even exceed NASA in the amount of public advancements that come from their research, if only because of the amount of money they spend on it.

RE: The way to go?
By emarston on 4/14/2009 9:28:53 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention that silly internet thing... Get a clue before making statements like that. Much of what we have technologically is due to military research. Most people just don't realize it.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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