Author Topic: Biden-Harris Administration Extends Space Station Operations Through 2030  (Read 27423 times)

Offline yg1968

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Offline yg1968

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Not surprisingly, ESA is on board with the extension:

https://twitter.com/AschbacherJosef/status/1477005108164628483
« Last Edit: 12/31/2021 07:03 pm by yg1968 »

Offline JayWee

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So Russia is onboard too?

Offline Star One

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I am guessing JAXA & CSA will be onboard as well.

Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 01/06/2022 04:18 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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ISS 2030: NASA Extends Operations of the International Space Station


Offline MDMoery

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Gives us just enough time for Axiom Station to be fully self-sufficient.  I am very optimistic about Axiom if for no other reason on the basis of who is running it.  The only private company in the world who has a staff who has actually been responsible for successfully building an operational space station.

One thing I have been curious about.  At the point that Axiom is at the self-sufficient stage, would the the US part of the station be able to operate if the Russian segment was disconnected?
« Last Edit: 01/13/2022 03:34 am by MDMoery »

Offline whitelancer64

Gives us just enough time for Axiom Station to be fully self-sufficient.  I am very optimistic about Axiom if for no other reason on the basis of who is running it.  The only private company in the world who has a staff who has actually been responsible for successfully building an operational space station.

One thing I have been curious about.  At the point that Axiom is at the self-sufficient stage, would the the US part of the station be able to operate if the Russian segment was disconnected?

Russia's current plan is to not disconnect any of the current ISS modules.
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Offline yg1968

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Offline yg1968

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Offline yg1968

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ESA's decision on extending the ISS is expected at CM22 (ESA Ministerial Council in Paris, France
on November 22nd and 23rd 2022):

See slide 23:
https://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/corporate/JA_ESA_Press_Conference_18_Jan_2022.pdf
« Last Edit: 01/18/2022 11:20 pm by yg1968 »

Offline PeterAlt

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So, there’s no technical or time-restraint reasons now (except maybe political) for Russia not to go through with their original expansion plans for the RS. At the very least, they should open the unused node module’s ports to Russian private use.


I would love to see ISS grow to maximum build before it’s decommissioned in 2030.

Offline RonM

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So, there’s no technical or time-restraint reasons now (except maybe political) for Russia not to go through with their original expansion plans for the RS. At the very least, they should open the unused node module’s ports to Russian private use.


I would love to see ISS grow to maximum build before it’s decommissioned in 2030.

There is a time-restraint reason; is it worth the cost to prepare and launch modules if the modules are only going to be used for a few years? Nothing is ready to go. Russia may not be able to restart these programs and launch them before 2030, only eight years from now.

Offline spacenut

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I'm not sure about this move.  How much money could be switched to the Artemis program?  Would it speed up the return to the moon?  What if Russia want's out, and wants to deorbit their modules? 


Offline yg1968

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I'm not sure about this move.  How much money could be switched to the Artemis program?  Would it speed up the return to the moon?  What if Russia want's out, and wants to deorbit their modules?

According to Phil McAlister, $1.5B could be saved using Commercial LEO Destinations habitats. However, these habitats won't be ready until 2028 (there is a planned overlap of two years). The Trump Administration tried to end ISS in 2025 but Congress was not on board with that at all. I think that this is the only compromise that Congress was willing to accept.

See below for more on this:

NASA preps for ISS retirement, commercial stations:
https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2022/01/19/nasa-preps-for-iss-retirement--commercial-stations-

Quote from: the article
McAlister said that by retiring the ISS, it should save NASA about $1.5 billion annually.

“And in this case, we don’t need any increased appropriations. We’re just using our money smarter,” McAlister said. “And that is going to be a key enabler for our Artemis missions going forward as well as freeing up the personnel resources.”

In response to a question from one of the committee members, McAlister said that NASA’s obligation of running the ISS is about $3.5 billion each year. He noted that half a billion of that are activities that NASA will want to continue to do in LEO with or without the Space Station and it will cost about $1 billion to purchase the services they need from a commercial LEO destination.
« Last Edit: 02/02/2022 12:50 am by yg1968 »

Offline PeterAlt

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So, there’s no technical or time-restraint reasons now (except maybe political) for Russia not to go through with their original expansion plans for the RS. At the very least, they should open the unused node module’s ports to Russian private use.


I would love to see ISS grow to maximum build before it’s decommissioned in 2030.

There is a time-restraint reason; is it worth the cost to prepare and launch modules if the modules are only going to be used for a few years? Nothing is ready to go. Russia may not be able to restart these programs and launch them before 2030, only eight years from now.


Russia’s previous plan was to eventually disconnect the newer modules and connect them to the planned independent station. If they were to launch NEM-1 before 2030, it would make sense to detach at least that one module. Since the new station will be in a different orbit, would a Progress be capable of delivering a single module to a new orbit, or would a new vehicle be required to transfer its orbit?

Offline DreamyPickle

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Cooperation with Russia prevents more effective sanctions and should be considered a liability.

Russians should be encouraged to detach their modules.

Offline RonM

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So, there’s no technical or time-restraint reasons now (except maybe political) for Russia not to go through with their original expansion plans for the RS. At the very least, they should open the unused node module’s ports to Russian private use.


I would love to see ISS grow to maximum build before it’s decommissioned in 2030.

There is a time-restraint reason; is it worth the cost to prepare and launch modules if the modules are only going to be used for a few years? Nothing is ready to go. Russia may not be able to restart these programs and launch them before 2030, only eight years from now.


Russia’s previous plan was to eventually disconnect the newer modules and connect them to the planned independent station. If they were to launch NEM-1 before 2030, it would make sense to detach at least that one module. Since the new station will be in a different orbit, would a Progress be capable of delivering a single module to a new orbit, or would a new vehicle be required to transfer its orbit?

I'm not an expert on orbital mechanics but based on what others have said it takes a lot of delta V to change orbital plane. I'm guessing it's not practical because the new Russian station ROSS will be in a sun-synchronous orbit. That's a 47 degree change from ISS.

Offline PeterAlt

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So, there’s no technical or time-restraint reasons now (except maybe political) for Russia not to go through with their original expansion plans for the RS. At the very least, they should open the unused node module’s ports to Russian private use.


I would love to see ISS grow to maximum build before it’s decommissioned in 2030.

There is a time-restraint reason; is it worth the cost to prepare and launch modules if the modules are only going to be used for a few years? Nothing is ready to go. Russia may not be able to restart these programs and launch them before 2030, only eight years from now.


Russia’s previous plan was to eventually disconnect the newer modules and connect them to the planned independent station. If they were to launch NEM-1 before 2030, it would make sense to detach at least that one module. Since the new station will be in a different orbit, would a Progress be capable of delivering a single module to a new orbit, or would a new vehicle be required to transfer its orbit?

I'm not an expert on orbital mechanics but based on what others have said it takes a lot of delta V to change orbital plane. I'm guessing it's not practical because the new Russian station ROSS will be in a sun-synchronous orbit. That's a 47 degree change from ISS.


The plan is sun synchronous orbit now? They change their minds every several months or seems.

Offline yg1968

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« Last Edit: 02/02/2022 12:56 am by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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A number of interesting points about the future of ISS were made in the report:

Quote from: page 4 of the report
Roscosmos has formally completed extension analyses for the time period through 2024 and will begin work on analyzing extension through 2030.

Quote from: page 22 of the report
Roscosmos, ESA, JAXA, and CSA have indicated their desire to continue ISS operations through 2030, pending coordination within their respective governments and in accordance with their applicable decision-making procedures.

Quote from: page 12 of the report
NASA and its partners have evaluated varying quantities of Russian Progress spacecraft and determined that three can accomplish the de-orbit [of the ISS]. Additionally, Northrop Grumman has been expanding the propulsion capabilities of its Cygnus spacecraft, and NASA has been evaluating whether Cygnus could also be part of the vehicle capability needed to the de-orbit the ISS.

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=55503.msg2336767#msg2336767
« Last Edit: 02/02/2022 03:34 am by yg1968 »


Offline yg1968

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Offline redliox

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For obvious reasons, Biden's stance on the ISS might be forced to change soon:
https://spacenews.com/biden-sanctions-will-degrade-russian-space-program/
Quote
“We estimate that we will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, and it will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernize their military. It will degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program,” Biden said in a White House address outlining new sanctions.
I'm a bit concerned on the ISS and EXoMars, but uncertain if it warrants a thread; but at the least without Russian propulsion I can't imagine the ISS lasting to 2030.  I understand, barring the politics that supersede both NASA and Roscosmos, launches for the next handful of years should still be secure (?), but 2030 feels like a shakier estimate than a month ago.
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Offline wolfpack

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Does NASA have plans to de-crew the ISS in the event of geo-political conflict? I would hope so and that it includes the return of US and US-allied crew to US waters.

Feels bad to have to say it, but I think we need it.

Offline ThereIWas3

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What happened to the concerns about the segment seals and the Aluminum structure (at a crystaline level) degrading?  Political decisions can't change physics.

Offline Vahe231991

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Does NASA have plans to de-crew the ISS in the event of geo-political conflict? I would hope so and that it includes the return of US and US-allied crew to US waters.

Feels bad to have to say it, but I think we need it.
The Dragon 2 is being used to ferry American astronauts to the ISS, so NASA will never de-crew the ISS.

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Does NASA have plans to de-crew the ISS in the event of geo-political conflict? I would hope so and that it includes the return of US and US-allied crew to US waters.

Feels bad to have to say it, but I think we need it.

At least the ISS is not in Jovian orbit.




(I know, mods, a bit off topic, but after the last week I think we need a little levity. And I wonder how many of our members saw this in the theater?)
« Last Edit: 02/25/2022 04:39 am by JAFO »
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Offline woods170

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Does NASA have plans to de-crew the ISS in the event of geo-political conflict? I would hope so and that it includes the return of US and US-allied crew to US waters.

Feels bad to have to say it, but I think we need it.

At least the ISS is not in Jovian orbit.




(I know, mods, a bit off topic, but after the last week I think we need a little levity. And I wonder how many of our members saw this in the theater?)

I'm old enough to have seen it in the theater. And having lived all of my life in Europe I have alwasy known that eventually it would come to this point. ISS will likely soldier on for a few more years, but once it is gone, so will be any sort of systematic cooperation in space between Europe and the USA on one side, and Russia on the other side.

Offline su27k

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At least the ISS is not in Jovian orbit.

I think if it's in Jovian orbit, it'd actually be easier, since the nature of a Jovian mission means they won't need much from Earth and would be mostly independent, so the like of Rogozin won't have any say in the matter, it would be up to Cosmonauts and Astronauts on the ship to decide what to do, and they can be trusted to be professionals.

The reason ISS' continued existence is being doubted is because it's heavily dependent on Earth, and Earth is pretty crazy these days.

Offline DreamyPickle

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Is there really no concrete plan that could ensure ISS survival in the event of detaching the Russian segment? Surely somebody has actually analyzed this.

The easiest solution would be to just add bigger fuel tanks to a Cygnus, maybe and launch it on the Falcon in Antares becomes unviable.

Offline Eric Hedman

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I can't believe I'm saying this, but it is time to splash the ISS and get on with replacements that do not involve Russia or China.  It would be interesting to see how fast commercial replacements could come on line if the ISS money is shifted to them.

Offline Lar

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Let's do our best to stay out of politics. I know it's hard. Thanks!
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Offline whitelancer64

Is there really no concrete plan that could ensure ISS survival in the event of detaching the Russian segment? Surely somebody has actually analyzed this.

The easiest solution would be to just add bigger fuel tanks to a Cygnus, maybe and launch it on the Falcon in Antares becomes unviable.

Detaching the entire Russian segment isn't plausible. Zarya is permanently attached to Unity / Node 1, and Zvezda is old enough that it's not worth removing.
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Offline JayWee

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Zarya is owned by NASA, however, is it also controlled by NASA? Or controlled from russian ground control together with the rest of the RSS?

Offline yg1968

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Offline yg1968

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Does NASA have plans to de-crew the ISS in the event of geo-political conflict? I would hope so and that it includes the return of US and US-allied crew to US waters.

Feels bad to have to say it, but I think we need it.

At least the ISS is not in Jovian orbit.

(I know, mods, a bit off topic, but after the last week I think we need a little levity. And I wonder how many of our members saw this in the theater?)

What movie is that?

Offline spacenut

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Was that movie 2010?  A spin off from "2001 A Space Odyssey". 

The irony kind of applies here. 
« Last Edit: 03/01/2022 01:07 pm by spacenut »

Offline pk67

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In the context of Mars colonization plans, the task of maintaining the non-Russian part of the ISS on LEO seems to be a relatively easy task. What do the experts think?
Why not send a third stage (Falcon), raptor-powered, to a LEO equipped with a mooring interface to the ISS instead of a Dragon?
Russian propaganda in the person of Rogozin suggests that the US does not currently have any alternative technique to keep the ISS in orbit.
How is it in reality?
If the vac-raptor is designed for long periods in space and for multiple use during a space mission, even as far as the orbit of Mars, it seems that using this drive to maintain the ISS on the LEO and perhaps even change the orbit inclination angle to the optimal one in terms of access. from the launch pads located in the USA.

It is not my intention to open a political discussion on this thread. I would just like to point out that if there is no nuclear war in the next few years, replacing US-Russian cooperation in space with US-Ukrainian cooperation would be a big blow to the image of Russia as a modern country open to international cooperation. At the same time, it would be a recognition of Ukraine's sovereignty and its contribution to strengthening international solidarity in the defense of democracy and peace in the world.
Occupied and deprived of sovereignty by Russia, Ukraine on Earth would have its sovereign module in space for itself, which Russia could not occupy without risking retaliation and the destruction of Russian satellites in space. It seems to me that in the current geopolitical situation, such a program as sketched above is much more attractive in the media dimension than landing on the moon or building a base on the moon. Thanks to this, it could gain greater financial support for its long-term implementation. A separate topic is the possibility of transferring offensive technologies of anti-satellite weapons to non-NATO countries in order to increase their security.

Offline StormtrooperJoe

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In the context of Mars colonization plans, the task of maintaining the non-Russian part of the ISS on LEO seems to be a relatively easy task. What do the experts think?
Why not send a third stage (Falcon), raptor-powered, to a LEO equipped with a mooring interface to the ISS instead of a Dragon?
Russian propaganda in the person of Rogozin suggests that the US does not currently have any alternative technique to keep the ISS in orbit.
How is it in reality?

This doesn't work in reality, firing a a raptor that is physically connected to the station would tear it to pieces, nevermind the time it would take to design, build, and test said 3rd stage.

There's already an existing solution to this: Cygnus(Though it will need to be launched on a falcon 9). A Dragon could probably be made to work, although that is not ideal.

Offline pk67

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Thanks for the answer. In fact, when I wrote about the vac raptor, I didn't mean a full-size raptor optimized for thrust and high ISP.
I was thinking about something smaller based on the experience that the designers gained with the raptor.
More precisely, I meant that the separation of the ISS part from the Russian propulsion module opens a new field for constructors and a new field for gaining experience during the implementation of a very practical task, which is maintaining the ISS in orbit, or changing the orbit parameters.
Perhaps such a third stage could be powered by liquid hydrogen? Perhaps a full-size raptor would be more suitable for a second stage drive?
In general, I would like to note that the new geopolitical situation opens up new areas of possibilities for operation in space, both in peaceful and military applications.

An interesting area of ​​activity for constructors seems to be the development of cheap economic anti-satellite weapons and the export of these weapons to countries threatened by aggression from the superpower. The risk of losing a large fleet of satellites belonging to an aggressor in conflict with a much weaker and virtually helpless enemy would be a strong deterrent without the need to resort to nuclear weapons.

In this context, keeping the ISS in orbit would only be part of a broader earth-peace program reminiscent of the R. Reagan "star wars" program.

The proliferation of economic anti-satellite weapons to countries threatened by or already suffering from aggression is not as dangerous as the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

For example, if Syrian insurgents had access to such cheap anti-satellite weapons, then for Russia to intervene in this country and support the dictator's regime would be a much more costly and risky task.

Launching such weapons into orbit with economic reusable rockets on the one hand would be a practical business much more needed by mankind now than orbital tourism. Of course, if any of the countries that have anti-satellite weapons were ready to resell these weapons, opening a new market. On the other hand, in the context of recent world events, it seems that this would be a very strong argument for refraining from unjustified use of armed force by a power with a large and expensive satellite fleet, which would be conducive to maintaining peace in the world.

In this thread, I do not want to open a discussion on other topics related to access to space, but not directly related to the maintenance of the ISS in orbit. However, it is difficult for me to express my own opinion on the functioning of the ISS without referring to the broader geopolitical context and the context of human activity in space.
In the context of the dramatic events of recent days, it can be seen that the US was not prepared for an abrupt end to cooperation with Russia in space.
US-Russian cooperation in orbit, which until now has been perceived by the people as an element of development in partnership and in peace, now turns out to be part of the Russian camouflage of its imperial and hostile goals. In short, the ISS is a tool of Russian propaganda - readiness to cooperate with the US.
By suggesting the EU to abandon its dependence on Russian energy resources, the US itself forgot about its own dependence on Russia while keeping the ISS functioning.
Working with Russia in any field at present will be as shameful for the US as working with Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.

Offline yg1968

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Bridenstine supports the extension of the ISS to 2030:
https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1506252656897142792

Offline yg1968

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Offline yg1968

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Quote from: Marcia Smith
Q-instead of deorbiting ISS keep it as World Heritage Site?
Lueders-we've studied boosting it to higher orbit, would take 30-40 Progresses! Wish cld keep forever but fighting laws of physics. It's huge. Lots of drag. Can't leave it there as hazard.

https://twitter.com/SpcPlcyOnline/status/1580567543760433157

Offline AS_501

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"...would take 30-40 Progresses"  I'll bet someone in Space-X took that comment as a challenge.
Form a purely engineering perspective, how long could the ISS survive as a functioning spacecraft in the space environment even if it could be boosted to a higher orbit.  Perhaps there is an NSF thread about this?  Thx
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Offline yg1968

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Quote from: Katya Pavlushchenko
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order which allows #Roscosmos to begin the works on sending cosmonauts and cargo to the ISS in 2023-2027. Which means, Russia decided to stay on the ISS despite all the previous statements and “warnings on its bad technical condition”.

https://twitter.com/katlinegrey/status/1585516274016305152

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Offline Rondaz

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Japan to extend involvement with ISS to 2030, send astronaut to Moon-orbiting station.

A possibility for a Japanese astronaut to land on the Moon is to be determined through consultations in the future.

17 NOV, 22:10

TOKYO, November 18. /TASS/. Japan plans to extend its involvement with the International Space Station until 2030 and send an astronaut to a future US-led Moon-orbiting station, Keiko Nagaoka, Japan’s minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, said on Friday, the Kyodo news service reported.

She made the statement, which makes Japan the first country to support the US decision to extend the operation of the US segment of the ISS to 2030, during an online meeting with Bill Nelson, the administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Roscosmos Executive Director Sergey Krikalyov has said the future of the orbital outpost remains unclear but talks are underway to extend its operation after 2024. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov said earlier that Russia considered it possible to operate the station until 2028.

Nagaoka and Nelson signed an agreement during their online meeting to send a Japanese astronaut to Gateway, a US-led lunar-orbiting space station to be built by the end of 2028. In exchange, Tokyo will provide logistic transport to the station.

A possibility for a Japanese astronaut to land on the Moon is to be determined through consultations in the future.

https://tass.com/science/1538635

Offline Hog

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"...would take 30-40 Progresses"  I'll bet someone in Space-X took that comment as a challenge.
Form a purely engineering perspective, how long could the ISS survive as a functioning spacecraft in the space environment even if it could be boosted to a higher orbit.  Perhaps there is an NSF thread about this?  Thx
How much MMH/MON-can you stuff on a StarShip?  Or just berth a Starship with ISS and light a Raptor.
Paul

Offline Redclaws

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"...would take 30-40 Progresses"  I'll bet someone in Space-X took that comment as a challenge.
Form a purely engineering perspective, how long could the ISS survive as a functioning spacecraft in the space environment even if it could be boosted to a higher orbit.  Perhaps there is an NSF thread about this?  Thx
How much MMH/MON-can you stuff on a StarShip?  Or just berth a Starship with ISS and light a Raptor.

Probably some issues with thrust and load there.

Offline yg1968

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Quote from: ESA
Ministers decided to extend European participation in the International Space Station up to 2030, enabling ESA astronauts to continue working in orbit around Earth on board Europe’s Columbus research laboratory.

https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Corporate_news/Ministers_back_ESA_s_bold_ambitions_for_space_with_record_17_rise

https://twitter.com/esa/status/1595435571375120389
« Last Edit: 11/23/2022 02:45 pm by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Johnson Space Center is soliciting interest re: 'International Space Station Deorbit Capability'. See: https://sam.gov/opp/88ba9920f5684d06aacfd7c416d3d510/view

https://twitter.com/NASAProcurement/status/1597427700523737088
« Last Edit: 03/25/2023 02:53 am by yg1968 »

Offline yg1968

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Canada Commits to ISS Through 2030 As Biden Highlights Artemis Cooperation: https://spacepolicyonline.com/news/canada-commits-to-iss-through-2030-as-biden-highlights-artemis-cooperation/

https://twitter.com/SpcPlcyOnline/status/1639461413096759302

Quote from: Bill Nelson
Today, Canada announced its commitment to extend its participation on the @Space_Station through 2030.

NASA is proud to continue our partnership with @csa_asc on station to benefit life for humanity here on Earth and out into the cosmos.

https://twitter.com/SenBillNelson/status/1639422846253559810
« Last Edit: 03/25/2023 02:56 am by yg1968 »

Online DanClemmensen

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This sounds stupid of me, but what does "through 2030" mean in a NASA blog? Does it mean that the last astronaut doing "operations" will leave the ISS NET December 31, 2030? Or is there a different definition of 2030, such as FY 2030, or a different definition of "operations" taht included all of the time prior to ISS deorbiting?

This becomes interesting because the 14 remaining contracted CCP missions (6 Starliner, 8 Crew Dragon) don't quite stretch to December 2030 at the current average mission duration.

Offline John_Marshall

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This sounds stupid of me, but what does "through 2030" mean in a NASA blog? Does it mean that the last astronaut doing "operations" will leave the ISS NET December 31, 2030? Or is there a different definition of 2030, such as FY 2030, or a different definition of "operations" taht included all of the time prior to ISS deorbiting?

This becomes interesting because the 14 remaining contracted CCP missions (6 Starliner, 8 Crew Dragon) don't quite stretch to December 2030 at the current average mission duration.

I'm pretty sure I read a while back that the last astronauts would have be off ISS maybe in the fall of 2030-ish because of orbit decay and that ISS would be deorbited sometime over the winter of 2030/2031.

Offline AS_501

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So what happens in the last few years before deorbit if ISS suffers a major failure such as a frozen SARJ or a ammonia leak?  Does NASA order a repair EVA(s), or call the final crew home early?  Also, does it make sense to salvage some of specialized research equipment such as MELFI and CAL?
Launches attended:  Apollo 11, ASTP (@KSC, not Baikonur!), STS-41G, STS-125, EFT-1, Starlink G4-24, Artemis 1
Notable Spacecraft Observed:  Echo 1, Skylab/S-II, Salyuts 6&7, Mir Core/Complete, HST, ISS Zarya/Present, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, Dragon Demo-2, Starlink G4-14 (8 hrs. post-launch), Tiangong

Offline Cherokee43v6

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So what happens in the last few years before deorbit if ISS suffers a major failure such as a frozen SARJ or a ammonia leak?  Does NASA order a repair EVA(s), or call the final crew home early?  Also, does it make sense to salvage some of specialized research equipment such as MELFI and CAL?

I think that, in part, will depend on the status of the Axiom build-out.  If Axiom is ready to detach and take up independent orbit, then there would be a transfer of any transitioning experiments and/or equipment and a deorbit.

On the other hand, if Axiom is not yet ready, then repairs would be performed to maintain the station until Axiom is ready for detachment.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline AS_501

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Interesting item in today's SN article about the NASA's RFP for a Deorbit Module.  The RFP includes language for a possible contract extension to Sept. 2035.  Curious.  Everything I've read so far says NASA is insisting the deorbit take place in late 2030, possibly Q1 of 2031.  How does an extension to 2035 affect the Axiom station?
https://spacenews.com/nasa-proposals-hybrid-contract-approach-for-space-station-deorbit-vehicle/
Launches attended:  Apollo 11, ASTP (@KSC, not Baikonur!), STS-41G, STS-125, EFT-1, Starlink G4-24, Artemis 1
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Offline gemmy0I

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Interesting item in today's SN article about the NASA's RFP for a Deorbit Module.  The RFP includes language for a possible contract extension to Sept. 2035.  Curious.  Everything I've read so far says NASA is insisting the deorbit take place in late 2030, possibly Q1 of 2031.  How does an extension to 2035 affect the Axiom station?
https://spacenews.com/nasa-proposals-hybrid-contract-approach-for-space-station-deorbit-vehicle/
It's interesting to see this come out, as I was just thinking the other day that something like this might be exactly what Axiom is hoping for in their "best case scenario". :)

The interesting thing about the Axiom segment is that the more fully developed it gets, the more it takes the existing ISS modules off the "critical path" in terms of functionally relying on them to keep the station going for years to come. Right now, the shortest straw seems to be Zvezda, which happens to be both the most crucial module on the station, and also the one that's seen the most wear-and-tear and will need the sketchiest "band-aids" to keep going. But as soon as the first Axiom module has docked, the station will have a second self-contained service module capable of providing reboosts, attitude control, etc. if Zvezda were to one day fail or be deemed at the end of its useful life.

As more Axiom modules are added, especially the "Power Tower" which provides the full-strength independent power generation and CMG authority to allow Axiom Segment to detach and become a free-flying station, another option comes onto the table: simply keep the aging ISS modules around as a public-private annex to Axiom Station. Even as the old modules' systems are gradually shut down, Axiom could continue using them for e.g. storage, like BEAM (and to a large extent Zarya) is used now.

Axiom has already expressed a clear interest in "buying up" the "best of" the old ISS modules, starting with the Raffaello MPLM which they've bought out of ground storage and will be launching as one of the early Axiom Segment modules. They clearly see themselves as in need of storage space, which makes sense when you consider that both of the world's currently operating space stations - ISS and Tiangong - are desperately short of places to stash pressurized cargo. (The ISS crew are constantly shuffling cargo in and out of the airlocks and PMAs since they have nowhere else to put it; and recent pictures of Tiangong show their newly-launched Mengtian module is already chock-full of cargo bags. They're even keeping the outgoing Tianzhou cargo ship in orbit as a free flier so it can re-dock to the station after the next crew shuffle and continue providing storage space!)

Given that Axiom has Mike Suffredini, former ISS program manager, running the show, they are probably better-informed about the current operating state and lifespan of the ISS modules than anyone outside of NASA and Roscosmos. I would be shocked if they didn't have an internal "shopping list" they've discussed with NASA of ISS modules they'd love to "adopt" before they detach. Leonardo (the other MPLM) is probably at the top of that list, since it's simple and easy to detach. I'd imagine most of the other USOS modules are in pretty good shape as well, and likely have a much longer viable lifespan than the old Russian modules. Frankly, I think if we were only talking about the USOS, continuing the station's operations through 2035 would probably be a no-brainer, especially with the recent upgrades to things like batteries and soar panels.

While NASA has to plan on a 2030/2031 ISS deorbit because they have to be prepared for the worst, they actually have every incentive to kick this MMOD-pockmarked assemblage of aluminum cans down the road as long as they can :), because their options only get better with each passing year. Right now Starship is far from something they can count on, so they can't even (openly) talk about the idea of detaching modules piecemeal and bringing them home for the Smithsonian. But they'd be fools not to consider the possibility that 5-10 years from now, we may be living in a world with very different commercial space capabilities than we are now. Much as the ISS was born of daring to dream what might be possible in a world where the Space Shuttle would be flying regularly, they should "prepare for success" to not be caught flat-footed in what comes next.

We can also consider this from the political/public-relations side. Congress has made it clear that they are very attached to the ISS, for a lot of reasons, and will likely be the last ones in the relationship to be willing to let it go. They've invested a lot in the ISS over the decades and have gotten very comfortable with it as a fixture of contractor/constituent relationships as well as public image for the U.S. space program. Now imagine the headlines if, after spending all that time, money, and effort to build humanity's most expensive construction, it all gets "thrown away" in a giant fireball over the Pacific. There's going to be public outcry over why it wasn't brought home for a museum, because the public, who isn't familiar with the technical difficulties, is going to ask the simple question: "If we could bring it up piecemeal in space shuttles, why can't we bring it down the same way?" And frankly, they wouldn't be entirely wrong. If we still had the Shuttle, we could do exactly that. Yes, it would be expensive and complicated, but it's actually a great engineering "driving problem" to advance the state of the art in space (dis-)assembly techniques, just as the unexpected Hubble repairs were, and the ongoing ISS upgrades continue to be. The "only" reason we haven't been able to even consider the possibility for years is because we didn't have a Shuttle any more - and still don't have a replacement. That will change as soon as Starship is flying regularly, as it's exactly the Shuttle successor we hoped for and "deserved" for years. Especially with the cost reductions of fully-reusable launch, it becomes hard to justify not bringing home at least some of the ISS modules. And if you're going to do that, it makes sense to just leave the whole thing attached to Axiom Station to provide a work platform for all the EVAs and robotics work of that gradual disassembly.

I think this is a win-win-win for Axiom, NASA, and the politicians/general public. Axiom gets to keep the "best" ISS modules and use them as part of their station for as long as they remain useful - probably as part of an arrangement where they lease/barter them with NASA in exchange for "free" long-term expedition slots by NASA crew on their station. NASA could continue running their existing experiments from their existing modules, and gradually "move in" to Axiom's newer and better facilities at their own pace. The politicians get to keep their "baby" going as long as possible and never have to be responsible for a "drop-dead date" since the transition happens gradually at a level below their proverbial pay grade. Ultimately, the engineers at NASA and Axiom end up with the freedom to make engineering - rather than political - decisions about when and how to bring home each of the old modules, knowing that they aren't going to fall out of the sky and crash on some city as long as they're attached to the modern Axiom Station that provides reboosts and attitude control for the whole complex. And last but not least, the public gets to ooh and aah as every couple years, a new module arrives in the Smithsonian (or similar institution) to extend the life-sized display of a "real space-flown space station", showing them exactly what their tax dollars bought and why it was well worth it - and knowing that the work it began continues in the skies above, just as the Shuttle museum displays can now point to the ISS as the living embodiment of their historical contribution. (Whether it would be preferable to display the whole thing in its assembled configuration, or to split up the international modules like Columbus and Kibo to go to museums in their respective homelands, would be something for the politicians to figure out. :) )

I should note that I'm speaking here mostly of the USOS modules, since they're likely to remain in good enough shape to operate for a while as an Axiom Station annex and to be brought safely home. The Russian segment is less clear, both on technical and political grounds. If the ISS remains attached to Axiom Station past 2030, it may make sense to "passivate" Zvezda, Zarya, and Nauka's propulsion systems to reduce the likelihood of them becoming a hazard as they continue to degrade. The RS modules should remain quite usable as BEAM/Leonardo-style "storage modules" even if (like BEAM today) they have to be sealed behind a closed hatch for leakage concerns except when crew are going in to fetch stuff. That said, at some point they will need to be detached if there is a desire to bring home "core" USOS modules like Destiny and Harmony. Whether the RS modules could be brought home in Starships (and perhaps returned to Russia to take their place in a museum there) probably depends a lot on geopolitics and whether Russia is willing to spend money on it. They already threw away one station over the Pacific, so there'll probably be less public outcry over throwing away the RS modules than there would be in the US about splashing ours. (The fact that Russia never had an operational vehicle capable of bringing their modules home - Buran notwithstanding - and always intended them to be expended at end-of-life - makes a big difference in the PR factor, I think.) The biggest obstacle, I think, is that unless geopolitics changes drastically from where it is now, paying SpaceX to bring home the RS modules would be more politically toxic for the Russian government than simply disposing of them in a Mir-style Viking funeral. I could see, therefore, the RS segment (possibly including Unity) getting "splashed" by an expendable deorbit vehicle similar to what NASA is currently soliciting proposals for.

The other big challenge would be what to do about the truss structure and solar panels. That stuff surely can't be brought down for a museum, which means it has to be deorbited controllably. That's not so easy without keeping them attached to, at least, the Destiny module on which they're mounted. I wouldn't be surprised, therefore, if the decision is made to use a deorbit tug to splash Destiny and the truss structure along with Unity and the RS, while leaving the other USOS modules to be "cherry-picked" by Canadarm and transplanted to new berthing nodes on Axiom Station. Destiny is probably the most structurally-fatigued USOS module since it has to support the whole truss structure, so between that and its age, it is probably the least desirable (besides Unity) to retain long-term.

Offline AS_501

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Well said Gem.  Many of us old timers still have bad memories about Skylab not being restored, even if wasn't practical.  Hope to see a more graceful (for lack of a better word) end to the ISS.
Launches attended:  Apollo 11, ASTP (@KSC, not Baikonur!), STS-41G, STS-125, EFT-1, Starlink G4-24, Artemis 1
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Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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https://twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/1687126977952849920

Quote
NASA ISS program manager Joel Montalbano says at #ISSRDC this morning that while (most of the) the international partners have approved ISS operations through 2030, willing to go longer "if the agencies want us to." (Rocsosmos is only through 2028; they go in 4-yr increments.)

Offline yg1968

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NASA working to get private space stations up and running before ISS retires in 2030:
https://www.space.com/nasa-transition-iss-leo-commercial-space-stations

Quote from: the article
Mulholland also underscored the need for increasing the budget for the United States Deorbit Vehicle (USDV), a spacecraft expected to dock on the ISS before performing a safe deorbit and re-entry sequence back to Earth. (NASA is expected to award the contract for the design and production of this vehicle in March 2024).

The new funds are also likely to be used for an upgrade that significantly improves the science capability of a physics instrument on the ISS that hunts for dark matter, cosmic rays and antimatter galaxies. The detector, known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), was installed as an external module on the ISS in 2011. Its upgrade is expected to take an entire cargo flight, which "deserves a plus-up in the budget ahead," Mulholland said.

Offline yg1968

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Quote from: Katya Pavlushchenko
The head of Roscosmos,said at the conference at GCTC today, that Roscosmos will extend the operation of the #ISS as long as it is possible. Which means probably that he doesn't believe ROS will be build in the near future, even as a visited one-module station.

https://twitter.com/katlinegrey/status/1724760686499123541

Tags: Russia ISS dragon 2 
 

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