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  International Space Station: Plans post-2024

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Author Topic:   International Space Station: Plans post-2024
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 38870
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-25-2018 08:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reports out this morning from The Verge and Wall Street Journal suggest that the administration may propose phasing out NASA's support for the International Space Station by 2025 as part of the White House's Fiscal Year 2019 budget request.
Any budget proposal from the Trump administration will also be subject to scrutiny and approval by Congress. But even announcing the intention to cancel ISS funding could send a signal to NASA's international partners that the US is no longer interested in continuing the program. Many of NASA's partners still have yet to decide if they'd like to continue working on the station beyond 2024.
NASA over the past year has talked about transitioning the United States' involvement in the space station to a commercial entity, though how that would be done or who that would be is yet to be seen.
The spending proposal also could spark opposition from U.S. lawmakers who have been demanding a detailed blueprint for shifting station function to private entities. NASA missed a December deadline to submit one.

The proposed budget is expected to earmark some $100 million in seed money for what NASA envisions will be private spaceships, corporate research and other nongovernmental activities in low-earth orbit.

Studies in recent years have confirmed the space station hardware could continue to support operations through at least 2028.
Many career agency engineers and managers favor extending station operations to 2028, so White House space and budget officials drafted parts of the proposal over their objections, according to one person familiar with the debate.
The White House proposal is intended to free up funds for lunar missions (a topic for another thread). The White House was scheduled to release its budget request on Feb. 5, but has delayed it to Feb. 12.

denali414
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From: Raleigh, NC USA
Registered: Aug 2017

posted 01-25-2018 08:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seems a lot of "cart before the horse" funding questions. I would think any commercial enterprise wants to piggyback (or rent) space/time, not be the "heavy lifter" of actually building/maintaining a low earth orbit station.

Maybe I'm wrong, but have not seen any of the companies that either make rockets to go to a station or companies that do the microlab studies want to actually fund their own private station.

cspg
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From: Geneva, Switzerland
Registered: May 2006

posted 01-25-2018 09:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Can NASA operate two manned programs at the same time? The ISS and Orion missions? It would be like operating Apollo moon missions and Skylab. A budget increase to support the two would be necessary.

onesmallstep
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From: Staten Island, New York USA
Registered: Nov 2007

posted 01-25-2018 11:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, two manned programs have been run at the same time, either under development, training and/or orbital operations throughout NASA's history. At the end of Mercury, Gemini was coming on line; by 1966 plans were even made for a joint Gemini/Apollo flight until delays put a stop to that.

And the Apollo Applications Program (which became Skylab) began in the 60s, while Apollo was still flying. And shuttle supported building and staffing ISS (with two mission control centers) through 2011.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-25-2018 02:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) issued a statement in response to the reports:
If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they're going to have a fight on their hands. Such a move would likely decimate Florida's blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress has directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that.

SpaceAholic
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Posts: 4095
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-25-2018 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Divesting ISS to commercial interests seems appropriate given limited resourcing, most of ISS original objectives have been realized coupled with the volume of companies ramping up to occupy LEO. NASA in-turn reorients predominately on expanding the deep space exploratory and technological bow wave. Hope Nelson looses this fight.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 01-25-2018 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nelson's and others' disagreement is not over turning over low Earth orbit operations to commercial entities, but providing sufficient time for the burgeoning industry to take hold. Everyone agrees that NASA should pivot to deep space; the question is one of timing.

Ronpur
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From: Brandon, Fl
Registered: May 2012

posted 01-26-2018 04:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought the previous administration was planning on ending ISS in 2024? Had this changed?

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 38870
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-26-2018 05:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The previous extension was announced as "to at least 2024." No end to the space station program was set.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38870
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-26-2018 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by denali414:
...have not seen any of the companies that ... want to actually fund their own private station.
Robert Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Aerospace, issued a statement:
It doesn't have to be a zero-sum game. ISS operations should continue provided there are aggressive initiatives to use commercial platforms for human space operations in parallel with the continued use of the ISS until such time that NASA can safely relieve itself of the enormous financial burden.
Bigelow Aerospace provides the BEAM expandable module now at the space station and has proposed berthing its planned larger B330 module while it is being outfitted for on orbit operations.

denali414
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From: Raleigh, NC USA
Registered: Aug 2017

posted 01-27-2018 08:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...until such time that NASA can safely relieve itself of the enormous financial burden.
And that is the crux of the situation — how to, as you said Robert, "pivot" the financial burden from NASA to the commercial enterprises.

Bigelow obviously wants government grants (aggressive initiatives) to help his and other companies defray the upfront costs of daily running of ISS until their commercial objectives can provide cash flow. That in my opinion is the hardest part of this — how to schedule and get competitive companies to share the cost of running ISS without NASA under some kind of payment schedule.

There are some very interesting and very profitable microgravity experiments in genomics and science going on now that companies would be willing to pay for — but how much and when is a very sticky issue.

garyd2831
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From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 01-27-2018 08:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have there been any plans in the works (MSFC design team) that would repurpose the ISS truss assembly? If the crew modules have a life expiration on them, does the truss also suffer from the same metallurgy fatigue? If so, is there a rate difference? I'm sure its shear mass with Earth's gravitational pulls along with is traveling orbit speed have an impact, just not sure how much.

Could the truss system be moved out of LEO by strap-on rocket assist and say be placed into lunar orbit for onward movement platform in the exploration of deep space?

I know this is a totally science fiction question, but I was wondering if anyone at NASA has actually through out the repurposing aspects if there are any?

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 01-27-2018 09:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There have been studies on repurposing parts of the space station, though the focus has been mostly on the reuse of the more recently-launched modules, not the truss.

Logistically, it would require a lot of spacewalks, putting astronauts lives at increased risk, and would have to be done without the benefit of an independent robotic arm (such as the space shuttle's Canadarm, which served the purpose during assembly).

NASA's plans for a lunar orbital outpost (i.e. gateway) do not include a truss and instead of reusing modules already on orbit, the agency's commercial partners are looking at repurposing space station hardware still on the ground (such as the MPLM).

Even if one could deconstruct parts of the space station and use them elsewhere, it would not address the concern at hand: fostering and growing a commercial low Earth orbit industry such that it could stand on its own.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 38870
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-04-2018 12:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congressman John Culberson, who chairs the subcommittee that appropriates for NASA, has a letter to the editor in today's Houston Chronicle where he states:
I want to reassure the scientists, engineers and astronauts at NASA that I will fully fund the International Space Station, and I will do everything in my power to keep the International Space Station flying as long as the safety engineers tell us it is feasible to do so.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 38870
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-11-2018 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Trump administration is going forward with plans to stop funding the station after 2024, at least as called for in its FY2019 budget request to be released on Monday (Feb. 12). Per The Washington Post:
...it does not intend to abandon the orbiting laboratory altogether and is working on a transition plan that could turn the station over to the private sector, according to an internal NASA document obtained by The Washington Post.

"The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform," the document states. "NASA will expand international and commercial partnerships over the next seven years in order to ensure continued human access to and presence in low Earth orbit."

In its budget request, to be released Monday, the administration would request $150 million in fiscal year 2019, with more in additional years "to enable the development and maturation of commercial entities and capabilities which will ensure that commercial successors to the ISS — potentially including elements of the ISS — are operational when they are needed."

oly
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From: Perth, Western Australia
Registered: Apr 2015

posted 02-12-2018 01:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If this report is correct how much money will be pulled from the environmental and science areas of NASA that could be used to support the ISS in some way including cost share with private sector so that the manned spacecraft being developed by Boeing and SpaceX will have somewhere to fly to?

This seems to be that the possibility of the shuttle and Freedom space station all over again, where the US has a destination and no ship or a ship and no destination.

I believe that the ISS and a deep space habitat could provide better support for lunar and Mars missions, where crew fly to ISS on Dragon and transfer from ISS to deep space or the moon using Orion. This would save Orion launch costs and prevent expendable SLS rockets being dropped in the ocean, provide long duration Orion operations, allow crew change at lower cost, prolong low Earth orbit operations, allow many environmental and science missions to be done from ISS or Orion and give NASA experience with deeper space travel.

The ISS and deep space hab could act in a similar way to safe shelters in underground mining that would provide safe haven should an emergency happen say if another Apollo 13 type accident happens.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-12-2018 08:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The International Space Station's inclination is not conducive for beyond Earth orbit destinations. From a propellant perspective, it is better to launch from the ground directly to the moon (or some other Earth orbit rendezvous point) than to go first to the space station.

And the space station cannot be relocated to another inclination.

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