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Space Station going down hill?

  1. Oct 25, 2007 #1
    I heard somewhere on here that they were going to not use or get rid of the space station anymore. Is that true? :confused:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2007 #2

    cristo

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    Wikipedia seems to suggest the ISS will remain operational until 2016.
     
  4. Oct 25, 2007 #3

    D H

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    The US Space Shuttle program is being terminated. The International Space Station program will keep on going. I intentionally prefixed the two programs as US/International. The Space Station is truly an international project. Terminating the ISS without consulting the international partners would entail breaking multiple international agreements (aka treaties). Other than the Canadian robotic arm, the Space Shuttle is a purely US endeavour. Terminating the Shuttle program won't break any treaties.

    The decision to terminate the Shuttle has already been made and that decision is essentially irreversible. The last flight will be in 2010, period. Manufacturing pipelines have already been terminated. It will cost a lot of money to restart the Shuttle program. The Constellation program will need every cent of the Shuttle budget by the time the Shuttle program ends.
     
  5. Oct 25, 2007 #4

    D H

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    Additional note: With the exception of one mission to repair the Hubble (STS-125), the remainder of the Shuttle flights are dedicated to completing the ISS. See this page for a manifest of the remaining Shuttle flights.
     
  6. Oct 26, 2007 #5
    Well what will replace the shuttle? I mean, the shuttle was pretty effective in transporting people up to ISS, but are they now planning to use conventional rockets or is there a new technology coming up?
     
  7. Oct 26, 2007 #6

    Kurdt

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    NASA have been thinking about that for a while. With the announcment that the shuttles were retiring however they've been able to accelerate programs. I think they've opted for the Orion CEV as the shuttle replacement. Its seems hardly an adequate replacement however. The original concept for the shuttle replacement was the X-33 which never got off the ground because of design problems.
     
  8. Oct 26, 2007 #7

    D H

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    The Ares I / Orion CEV is one possibility. The Constellation program represents the old way of doing business: Big meetings, waterfall model, lots of NASA oversight, lots of money, and lots of time. There is presently a four+ year gap between Shuttle retirement and the first Orion mission to the ISS. NASA also has a longshot project for providing service to the ISS, the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project. NASA for the most part keeps its mitts off with regard to COTS. If this works (and one of the two original COTS contractors has already failed), it could mean drastic changes in how NASA does mundane things like getting people and equipment to low Earth orbit.
     
  9. Oct 26, 2007 #8

    Kurdt

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    Of course the X-33 program had the commercial aspect in mind. Its a shame the Lockheed deemed it too unprofitable to continue, because after NASA abandoned it they managed to solve the problem with the fuel tanks that was plaguing the vehicle. I suppose I only like the X-33 more simply because of aesthetics.
     
  10. Oct 26, 2007 #9

    Astronuc

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    The size and mission of ISS has changed with each administration since Reagan. Originally the SS was going to be a stage for future manned space exploration, ostensibly Moon and Mars. Well that has yet to happen.

    Then there was the huge cost which ballooned. The SS went through many design revisions - downward to something more modest and manageable - and it still costs billions, and part of that is the Shuttle program. Losing Challenger then Columbia really hurt the program and NASA overall.

    During STS-120, Discovery is delivering yet another module (US Node 2) and two more are scheduled.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts120/

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts120/mission_overview.html


    In the long term, ISS will have to be boosted to slightly higher orbit, otherwise it will decay and re-enter earth's atmosphere like Skylab did. The boosting system will need to be low thrust and such a system has yet to be developed.
     
  11. Oct 26, 2007 #10

    D H

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    The ISS has a huge atmospheric drag cross section, making it lose about 100 meters of altitude per day. The ISS has to be reboosted to a higher altitude several times per year. This is currently done by thrusters on the ISS or by a visiting vehicle docked to the ISS. The reboosts are clearly visible in this plot of the ISS attitude over the last year.
     
  12. Oct 26, 2007 #11

    Astronuc

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    I think they need something more effective. Some time ago Vasimr was suggested.

    Some folks at NASA were/are thinking higher still. But then I think there are issues with Shuttle getting there (?).

    I don't think atmospheric drag was considered 20+ years ago during the initial concept phase. On the other hand, the loss of Skylab should have indicated that potential for atmospheric drag. Shuttle wasn't finished in time to rescue Skylab, and there were not contingencies in place to deal with it. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2007
  13. Oct 27, 2007 #12
    I hope the transition away from the shuttle is well planned. I don't know what the reasoning behind this was but part of the original shuttle deal was to destroy the Saturn V plans. All we have left of the Saturn V is the rocket itself, so we would have to reverse engineer our own technology if we one day decided to replicate it. Does anyone know why they would want the Saturn V to be buried with zero chance of a comeback?
     
  14. Oct 27, 2007 #13

    Chronos

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    The space elevator is an option, but security issues render it untenable. The cost is enormous, and its iconic nature would draw every idiot on earth with access to a bomb and a cause.
     
  15. Oct 27, 2007 #14
    And we still lack the immediate ability to mass produce the carbon nanotubes needed to make an elevator stretching up into the heavens, so space elevator is still a bit off
     
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