TheSonntag
Topic Author
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Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:23 pm

How Long Will The ISS Be Used?

Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:07 am

The Columbia disaster undoubtedly slowed down the ISS project extremely, but I am very confident it will be completed anyway, of course only if the shuttle missions are succesful (something I am very sure about).

But how long will the ISS be used? Certainly nobody invests billions of dollars to retire a station in 2015 when it is completed in 2010, on the other hands the oldest modules were launched in 1998 already if I remember it correctly. MIR was used much longer than it was designed for, and despite the problems this worked out somehow.

So, are there realistical plans on when the ISS will be retired again? My opinion is, as long as it is no danger for the crew, keep it up. This thing should stay in orbit permanently. But what are the real plans?
 
Thorny
Posts: 1508
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:44 am

RE: How Long Will The ISS Be Used?

Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:10 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Thread starter):
But how long will the ISS be used? Certainly nobody invests billions of dollars to retire a station in 2015 when it is completed in 2010, on the other hands the oldest modules were launched in 1998 already if I remember it correctly. MIR was used much longer than it was designed for, and despite the problems this worked out somehow.

Assuming that a future President or Congress doesn't cancel or stall the Constellation program, NASA says it will discontinue use of ISS in 2016. Our international partners have not signed on to that plan, so ISS could well continue operations at ISS beyond that date without the US. It seems likely that the US will turn over control of its interests to some industrial/academic/commercial consortium at that time.
 
TheSonntag
Topic Author
Posts: 4296
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:23 pm

RE: How Long Will The ISS Be Used?

Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:33 am

Quoting Thorny (Reply 1):
ur international partners have not signed on to that plan, so ISS could well continue operations at ISS beyond that date without the US. It seems likely that the US will turn over control of its interests to some industrial/academic/commercial consortium at that time.

Thank you... 2016 sounds somewhat early, but aren't the Europeans generally supposed to do most of the ordinary "support" flights once the ISS is complete by using the ATV?

I have no clue of the actual calculations, but running the station, even accepting the fact that this will be expensive, must be much cheaper than developing and building it, so wouldn't a longer use make economical sense?
 
Thorny
Posts: 1508
Joined: Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:44 am

RE: How Long Will The ISS Be Used?

Mon Feb 27, 2006 9:36 am

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 2):
Thank you... 2016 sounds somewhat early, but aren't the Europeans generally supposed to do most of the ordinary "support" flights once the ISS is complete by using the ATV?

That's still under discussion, and Europe has not yet given the go-ahead to produce more ATVs. Note that NASA has set aside $500 million for unmanned cargo delivery, and the idea is for that to be a commercial service provided by someone else not NASA (the cargo-only version of CEV has been cancelled.) That logically could continue after 2016 with someone else (the industrial/academic/commercial consortium) paying the bills. At present, it looks like US companies Boeing and Lockheed-Martin are both studying license produced cargo vehicles launched on US rockets... Boeing with Europe's ATV on Delta IV and Lockheed with Japan's HTV on Atlas 5, but both could be beaten to the punch by one of the small startup companies such as t/Space with a proprietary vehicle.

The Station components were designed for a 15-year service life. That doesn't mean the Station will start to fall apart after 15 years, but it does mean maintenance and repairs will start to require more time and money after that point. That's where the 2016 retirement date comes from. Of course, with a lot of the US/European/Japanese equipment still sitting on the ground awaiting launch, the "shelf life" is questionable. But for the core components (Russia's Zarya and Zvezda, US's Node 1, Z1, and Destiny) the clock is ticking.

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