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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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From: Houston, TX
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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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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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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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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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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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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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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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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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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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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
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From: Houston, TX
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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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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
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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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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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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
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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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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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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.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-18-2018 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot sent out this memo, "Moving Forward with the ISS and Beyond" to employees today:
At the Space Symposium in Colorado this week, I'm excited to continue sharing with the national and international space community NASA's progress and our path forward back to the Moon and destinations beyond.

In particular, I'm looking forward to continuing discussions we've already begun with our partners about the next phase of the International Space Station's life beyond 2024, when we plan to end direct government funding of it.

I want to assure everyone that our involvement with station is not planned to end abruptly or without thoughtful consideration of how to transition this amazing resource. The ISS team and all the astronauts who helped us build it have been delivering on the ISS' promise for more than two decades now, with incredible international labs, hundreds of experiments and use by many people who previously had no access to space, and perhaps most importantly as a great source of inspiration. I still can't get over the fact that a high school senior this year has never known a time when humans haven't been living and working in space. I want that to remain so as we build on that record every single year.

Late last month, we delivered to Congress a report as part of an action in the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 evaluating the ISS as a platform for research, deep space exploration, and low-Earth orbit (LEO) spaceflight in partnership with our international partners, and the commercial space sector. I hope you've all had a chance to take a look at the report.

As we begin our missions to the Moon and beyond in the coming years, NASA will continue to have a need in LEO for regular crewed operations, long-term technology and systems development and demonstrations, space and life sciences research, and opportunities for astrophysics, space, and Earth science research.

The report lays out the principles by which NASA and its stakeholders will ensure uninterrupted access to low-Earth orbit, including the continuity of human spaceflight, and a vibrant and competitive industrial base.

While the report reaffirms NASA's commitment to its international partnership for the space station, it also makes a commitment to seeking new partners in low-Earth orbit and beyond as NASA leads a coalition deeper into space. One reason we're starting the discussions now about the ISS beyond 2024 is so we have plenty of time to evaluate options and plan for a viable path forward. Ideally, we'd become one of many customers purchasing services from the ISS and other assets in low-Earth orbit by that time.

In the FY19 budget currently working through its annual process, there's $150 million for companies to submit proposals about what their interests might be in playing a part in the commercialization of the ISS.

Tests flights later this year of the systems of our industry partners to take astronauts to space will also be significant milestones on our road to the ongoing transformation of LEO and its essential contributions toward our overall strategy in space.

The ISS represents an unparalleled capability in human spaceflight that is increasing knowledge of engineering and physical sciences, biology, our home planet, and the universe through its hundreds of research and technology demonstrations. And, it provides the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit. I always say, that when we're back at the Moon and going farther, we need to look back and see a vibrant economy in LEO as the support that is helping us to get there and that will continue to transform life on Earth.

I want to thank the teams and crews of the ISS for the great work they continue to accomplish with this amazing orbiting laboratory. ISS is truly the cornerstone of our future human spaceflight journey!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2018 07:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Testimony by NASA's Inspector General at a May 16 hearing provided new support to efforts by two senators to block plans to end funding of the International Space Station in 2025, reports SpaceNews.
At the hearing, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the space subcommittee, and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the full Senate Commerce Committee, reiterated their opposition to the proposal included in NASA's fiscal year 2019 budget request to end funding of the ISS in 2025 and transition to commercial facilities in low Earth orbit...

One of the hearing's two witnesses, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin, shared his concerns about the agency's ISS transition plans. He said his office is working on an audit of ISS operations and transition planning to be released in the next few weeks but provided a few observations from that work that undercut NASA's plans.

Martin said he was skeptical that there was a business case for commercialization of the station. "We question whether a sufficient business case exists under which private companies can create a self-sustaining and profit-making business using the ISS independent of significant government funding," he said. "The scant commercial interest shown in the station over its nearly 20 years of operation gives us pause about the agency's current plans."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2018 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Charting the Future of a Commercial Space Marketplace

NASA has released a research announcement requesting proposals to study the future of human spaceflight commercialization in low-Earth orbit.

The research announcement solicits industry concepts detailing business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the International Space Station or a separate free-flying structure, that would enable a space economy in low-Earth orbit in which NASA is one of many customers. Concepts should identify ways to stimulate demand for commercial low-Earth orbit services with a goal to sustain the space marketplace. Additionally, the study seeks industry input about the role of government and evolution of the space station in the process of transitioning U.S. human spaceflight activities to a non-governmental commercial human spaceflight enterprise in low-Earth orbit.

As described in its International Space Station Transition Report, NASA will continue to have a need in low-Earth orbit for regular crewed operations, long-term technology development and demonstrations, space and life sciences research, and opportunities for astrophysics, space, and Earth science research. Access to an orbital platform on which to conduct these activities will be key as NASA and its commercial and international partners prepare for crewed missions to the Moon and beyond.

Proposals are due in 30 days and should outline the technical concept as well as a business case and the evolving role of government. Participation in this solicitation is open to all categories of U.S. organizations, including industry, educational institutions and nonprofit institutions. NASA anticipates awarding multiple four-month, fixed priced contracts, not to exceed $1 million per award. Selection is expected to take place in July with the final reports delivered to NASA in the December timeframe.

NASA’s successful investment with a strong and continually growing U.S. space industry in low-Earth orbit allows the agency to focus on farther horizons as private companies continue successfully providing cargo resupply missions to low-Earth orbit and move purposefully toward once again launching astronauts from American soil. This commercial low-Earth orbit NASA Research Announcement is the next step in enabling a low-Earth orbit space marketplace.

oly
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From: Perth, Western Australia
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posted 05-17-2018 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hopefully the comments given by John Glenn during the June 23, 2011 John H. Glenn Lecture in Space History, "An Evening with Two Mercury Astronauts," at the National Air and Space Museum regarding the ISS are given some consideration. His comments regarding customer usage, technology, education and America holding a technological lead still seem apt, It seems as shame to think that the ISS has been ephemeral.

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