19 thoughts on “Conjoined Twins”

  1. ISS is near the end of it’s life, anyway. Disconnect power and computers from the US side, Evacuate the US Side using Space-X. Leave a limpet mine on the hatch door, with a warning.

  2. “Departing the Space Station would effectively represent breaking an international treaty.”

    Yeah. Well, there are over 10,000 armed Russians violating a treaty right now in the Ukraine.

  3. Just confiscate it and keep going. When the Ukraine thing is over, compensate Russia…or not. In 10 years maybe Musk or Bezos may want to buy the ISS and use it commercially. Old doesn’t mean useless.

  4. In most ways that matter, the article is nonsense, and I do wish Berger could somehow escape from Arse, as he’s a good journalist, Narrative notwithstanding. I mean seriously, “legal?” When the western states are sanctioning individual Russians and stealing their property? And yet some treaty is going to stop Russia from impounding Zarya (along with a hundred or so airliners). Is Ars readership that stupid? Who knows? Maybe so.

    The real technical question is whether or not the Russian segment can be undocked from the US segment. I have heard that Node 1, PMA1, and Zarya are permanently bound together mechanically, and can’t be undocked/unberthed. I don’t know if that’s true. And beyond that, Zarya and Zvezda are worn out and not worth taking.

    What the Russians can do is move Rassvet (using the ERA) from Zarya to Prichal and use a Progress to move Poisk to Prichal, then undock Nauka from Zvezda and abandon the rest to the US (good bye! good luck!). Nauka may not be capable of free flight on its own anymore, but has some intact fuel tanks which a Progress could access. This would all take some work, including a couple of EVAs. but it’s doable, even if only for spite. I guess we’ll see. If it did happen, recall that Russia still has a second Uzlovoy Module (like Prichal) and a power and science module (NEM) on the ground. Those were supposed to go to ROSS, but that’s unlikely to be built now. But they could revert to OPSEK with just those pieces.

    What would the US do? Who knows, given how stupid our currently leadership seems to be. ISS would be hard to manage with the Russian segment attached but inert. As far as I know, neither Cygnus nor Cargo Dragon could do the job.

    (I realize the “hollowed out industries” narrative is still in play, and I still don’t believe it. Yet. The Neocon Kool-Ade is delicious and satisfying, but it’s still only Kool-Ade, though Putin seems to be working hard to fuck things up. Maybe he’s on the leftist payroll… Oh. Wait. Right.

      1. And there’s my ever more strongly held belief in a world populated by simpletons and jackasses. My question is, would you create 50,000 pieces or only 20,000. I mean, seriously, how hard can it be to change a car tire with dynamite? Although if you’d suggested a Sawz-All, I might have laughed…

          1. And you don’t have any idea how fragile ISS really is. Hint: it’s a little stronger than wet toilet paper. You could figure this out all by yourself, if you paid attention to the events following the Nauka module docking last year. Following the docking, the module’s thrusters fired, causing the entire station to tumble. This was counteracted by firing the engines on the Progress docked to the Poisk module. What’s interesting about this is, first, the crew did not feel the thrust, or movement, and second, when it was over and the windows were unshuttered, the US crew were relieved to see that none of the ISS solar arrays had torn off. This means that the forces necessary to destroy ISS are too weak to be detected by the human vestibular apparatus.

            You also are apparently unaware that the Russian segment is loaded with approximately five metric tons of hypergolic propellants. Most of this is in pressure bladders, but some of the bladders have torn, leaking propellant into the tankage space, made of the same decades old aluminum that is cracking now. Most of the propellant is in large tanks in Zarya, Zvezda, and Nauka, but some is in smaller tanks in Poisk, Prichal, and Rassvet. All of them are interconnected with fuel lines and valves, including valves that run right up to the docking interface with the US segment. Your detcord will crack the valves and the Russian segment will explode, also destroying the US segment. In all probability ISS will shatter into 50,000 pieces that will spread through LEO, taking out everthing else, that famous “cascade” we’ve heard about.

            I could go on, but that’s all I feel like typing. Anyways, detcord: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detonating_cord

            And you really would be better off cutting up PMA1 forward of the APAS docking interface with a Sawzall, though it’d take a while:

    1. Is Ars readership that stupid? Who knows? Maybe so.

      The answer to your question can be found in almost any comment thread at Ars. ^_^

      1. Usually when I read Ars comments, I repeatedly remember the word Red used in That 70s Show: Dumbass! It’s a nice supplemennt to simpleton, jackass, and my catchall for people who are both: boob.

  5. Beyond all of the above, while the non-undockability of the two segments might not be true (who knows, with so many liars deploying so many lies?), it’s also true that while the Rusian segemnt would work fine without us, the US segment would be in deep trouble. It turns out while Cygnus can provide orbital reboost, it can;t desaturate the CMGs and can’t be upgraded to do so in less than a year. The only hope would be if SpaceX could design and fabricate a service module for Dragon in under a month. Not impossible!

  6. In a way de-orbiting the station would actually be a plus I think. It has long passed its design lifespan. You could probably launch larger modules today with a Falcon Heavy. Or you could use inflatable modules. But you would need to design all new modules and it would take many years to get a new station up. At least a modular one. A simple large module in a one up launch would be easier to do.

    How much of the work being done with Gateway would be reusable for a new orbiting station?

    1. You could use Gateway to completely replace the Russian Orbital Segment. As it happens, today Rogozin announced Russia is leaving ISS as soon as its current projects are completed (mostly tourist flights). Gateway will be ready for flight in 2024, as will the first Axiom module.

      Btw, ISS is not past its design life, as a whole. Looking at ISOS only, it has an old segment (Node 1, Quest Airlock, and Destiny) that are 20+ years old. The rest is 10 years old or less. Node 2 mounts the Japanese and European labs. Node 3 mounts the Cupola, Leonardo facility, the Nanoracks airlock, and BEAM (which I would discard). Gateway, the Node 2 and Node 3 complexes, and Axiom Hab 1 would, in 2024, add up to an equivalent to current ISS. Whether its worth it is another discussion. Yes you could send up new and bigger modules, but then you’d have to build and pay for said mdoules, while the Node 2 and 3 complexes exist and are far from worn out. I myself would refurbish the existing USOS, add Gateway and the Axiom segement (4 more modules) and keep it running until 2050.

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