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  Assessing Space Station's structural lifetime

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Author Topic:   Assessing Space Station's structural lifetime
music_space
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Posts: 1050
From: Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 09-13-2010 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Spaceflightnow: Engineers assess space station's structural integrity.

Announced by the White House in February, the proposed continuation of ISS operations was met with widespread praise. All of the project's international partners are in favor of the extension.

The decision sparked a one-of-a-kind engineering effort to certify the space station to operate until 2028, the 30th anniversary of the launch of the first element of the complex.

"That's 30 years after we launched the first piece," said Kirk Shireman, NASA's deputy space station program manager. "Some of our experts said that's about as much as we think we'll get. So far, we haven't seen any show-stoppers."

music_space
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Posts: 1050
From: Canada
Registered: Jul 2001

posted 09-13-2010 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One failure mode engineers are studying is the development and spread of microscopic fatigue fractures in the station's metal skeleton.

"It's called fracture mechanics, and we actually inspect the structure as it's being built," Shireman said. "The inspection method says I can find a crack down to some minimal length, and if the crack is smaller than this minimum length, then I won't be able to detect it."

Station officials can't rely on crew members to inspect for fractures in space.

Couldn't instruments be sent up to make such measurements through EVA or robotics operations?

Fezman92
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Posts: 1030
From: New Jersey, USA
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 09-13-2010 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Get EVAs out there and arm them with lots of duct tape.

Tykeanaut
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From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 10-14-2010 10:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do you think another space station will be built after the ISS, or will there be another 24 year gap as there was after Skylab?

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 10-14-2010 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you mean a station built mostly by NASA and a western consortium, I don't know if that will happen for some time. A private station made of smaller modules I can see.

However, the behaviour of the ISS over long term would have bearing on the design and constuction of a large manned craft to explore Mars or the rest of the solar system. Except for the phases of thrust to escape or enter planetary gravity wells, such craft would essentially be large space stations for most of their missions.

Tykeanaut
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From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 10-15-2010 07:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I only ask this question because like many I am concerned about the future of U.S. manned spaceflight. With no immediate plans to go to the moon or Mars, I wonder if there will even be a US space station in orbit or will that chapter of history also be abandoned?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-15-2010 07:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Though the authorization act passed this year only extends U.S. involvement in the ISS to 2020, it is expected that another extension will be approved to 2028 (hence the need to study the station's structural lifetime).

That places the station's expected decommission within the same timeframe as U.S. crewed missions beyond low Earth orbit are targeted to begin.

In the meantime, at least two U.S.-based companies are planning commercial space stations, as is a Russian company with strong ties to a third U.S. company.

All times are CT (US)

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