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Whither ISS?

I have a new piece up over at Popular Mechanics on the future of the space station.

Also, it's the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Space Act, creating NASA.

[2 PM Update]

Here's another rollout story at PM, with a lot of pics. It's the current front page of the on-line version, along with my ISS story.


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Stewart wrote:

A question; how high could the ISS orbit be if it's not limited to shuttle's low orbit?

This destroying of billions worth of hardware is one thing that enemies of spaceflight (those who want "to spend the money here on Earth's problems") can throw at any plans for future development. How can there ever be a permanent human future off-world if we don't re-use and recycle the stuff that's been put up there at such high cost?

Rand Simberg wrote:

The practical altitude limit is set by the Van Allen belts. Put it too high, and you start getting radiation problems. I suspect that maybe three hundred nautical miles would be optimal, but it depends on how you weight the factors in the trade.

Mark wrote:

I wonder how far we are from a market for LEO scrap metal? Seems a pity to de-orbit so much good material, already lofted. Maybe once it's decommissioned, Bigelow or someone could purchase the salvage rights, catch it, melt it down, and make something useful?

Brock wrote:

I was thinking the same thing as Stewart. Even though de-orbiting the ISS after so much money spent for so little reward is really an argument for why NASA needs to get out of space operations, space development opponents will use it as a reason to fight all space operations (private or public).

Oh well. Let's hope Bigelow manage to do for LEO habitation what SpaceX et. al. are doing for LEO access.

memomachine wrote:



What a useless, worthless $100 billion dollar white elephant. And NASA wants that same amount to send a half-dozen tourists to Mars.

Personally I want NASA dismembered.

Karl Hallowell wrote:

Hmmm, any idea what sort of work Spacehab plans to do on the ISS? In particular, are they doing their own research or are they getting paid to do someone else's research? I haven't heard of any commercial interest in the ISS prior to this, but I haven't really been keeping track.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on July 29, 2008 9:23 AM.

The Era Of Carbon Craziness was the previous entry in this blog.

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