International Space Station turns 10
It’s time to say Happy Birthday – to the International Space Station.
The International Space Station, one of the great examples of humanity’s technological evolution, turns 10 today.
But more critical is the future of the International Space Station, which is currently in turmoil. With the financial crisis in full swing, and the cost of the project having grown exponentially over time, the American capability to launch crews into space has diminished substantially. A leaked email from NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin in September highlighted that “the game has changed” and that the previous American Government (the Bush Administration) refused to fund any operations past 2010. Future operations could be flown using Russian crews, but NASA were politically unable to buy them due to the conflict in Georgia, rendering the future of the Space Station in jeopardy. NASA Administrator Michael D. Griffin has said that the International Space Station was a stepping stone on the way to human exploration and scientific discovery. “On the space station, we will learn how to live and work in space. We will learn how to build hardware that can survive and function for the years required to make the round-trip voyage from Earth to Mars.” said Griffin in a feature on the NASA website. Fortunately, president-elect Barack Obama has publicly supported the continued funding of the International Space Station. So, here’s to you ISS, and happy birthday. Sources: The Big Picture, The Independent, NASA, SpaceRef.com, MSNBC
Yes…* It ensured that Russian rocket scientists did not stray to rogue states with nuclear ambitions. * It cemented a bond of scientific collaboration between nearly 20 nations involved in the space station. * It is a brilliant scientific and technological achievement that will be useful for further space missions. No… * The little useful science it has provided could have been gathered more cheaply using robot spacecraft. * It has given science a bad name by involving commercial gimmickry such as space tourism and space golf. * Low-earth orbit is intrinsically less exciting than the exploration of the Moon and planets. The Independent