NASA – Undecided Future For International Space Station

March 17, 2011

NASA and its subcontractors must get plans in motion if they are considering a project for being a space taxi service to shuttle astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) before the 2020 deadline.  However, there is an even bigger problem, at the moment there has been no funding put into place to support the ISS beyond 2015. With budget constraints and a diminishing shuttle program, NASA may end its participation in the program.  This also means by 2016 the ISS is scheduled what scientist believe to be a controlled de-orbit into the Pacific Ocean; yet nothing that has been manmade of its size has allowed NASA scientist to actually determine how it can be done in the safest manner. 

It’s important to realize that while the United States may want to end its participation in the program, International partners (Russia, Japan, Canada & Europe) are interested in continuing the program.  The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, has openly spoken to BBC News, about his desire to keep the ISS flying past the 2015.  He believes there is great worth in the ISS and in order to maintain that prolonged existence, countries need to hire more scientists to develop and run experiments.  However, it’s difficult to persuade these scientist when they obviously know there will be little time or money to produce any material.  Dordain, also goes on to discuss that having the ISS allows scientists to conduct research and experiments from afar and bring back information to a variety of fields, not just including those dealing with science. 

The main perspective and scenario that needs to be evaluated here is the United States, according to the Space Foundation.  Our country decision to potentially withdraw impacts the future of ISS.  There are potential issues that could be altered, such as perceptions of the United States, space exploration, workforce and most importantly education.  It seems unusual to withdraw when the United States has the most advanced space program in the world and the main purpose of the ISS is to help benefit all of mankind.

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