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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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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?


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