Boots on Mars?
Knowing the Yanks, it's more likely to be McDonalds...
The head of the European Space Agency (ESA) has called for the International Space Station (ISS) to be kept in service until at least 2020. At present the station - the only manned space effort currently underway - is not planned to keep operating past 2015. "I am convinced that stopping the station in 2015 would be a mistake …
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The British Gov't "doesn't do manned space" - look at Helen Sharman "the first British astronaut" even though it was the Soviet Union that selected and trained her, and paid for it all.
When the British companies agreed to help fund it then backed out of the deal, Mikhail Gorbachev ordered it to proceed under Soviet expense in the interests of international relations.
Being "a Brit" is a bad thing because you know there will be no support from England at all.
ESA can ferry 7 tonnes a time on ATVs, and maybe eventually recover items if the ATV is fitted with a return transfer vehicle. Longer term, the ATV may become man-rated, although whether that would fly on a man-rated Arianne 5, or Arianne 6 I don't know. The Arianne 6 is only a theory at the moment, but at this rate it might be here before the new Nasa beast!
Russia is able to send up progress supply ships, and Suoyez people carriers. They can also return people and a small amount of stuff.
Japan can also send up stuff with their HTV (As long as there is a keen video game player up there to catch the HTV in mid flight and dock it using the arm).
China wants to get in on space stations, and it wouldn't be a bad idea to join the party for a heads-up before trying to do it all by themselves for the first time.
There are a fair few items up there as spares for things too big/heavy to send up on Progress / ATV / HTV.
What I don't know about is ground support for the main station by anyone other than NASA.
So if USA / NASA go home and abandon the party, can the rest of the world carry on without them?
>So if USA / NASA go home and abandon the party, can the rest of the world carry on without them?
Technically yes, politically a bit trickier. The Russians have been making noises that they want to carry on using it.
They could probably make some reasonable claim under maritime law that it was abandoned and so was salvage. Or they could simply have their people in the last crew not leave and be replaced by more Russian crew
Since it would probably be considered in rude for the US to deliberately de-orbit it or shoot it down with military personnel of a rival nuclear armed (ex)superpower on board - there will probably be some deal worked out where the Russians are funded by Europe/Japan to 'maintain' it.
The US legally can't use Russian services to get crew to the ISS because they are an axis of evil country (for supporting terrorist cuba).
"There are a fair few items up there as spares for things too big/heavy to send up on Progress / ATV / HTV."
Yup, so if you notice the last few Shuttle missions are large heavy spares, some large heavy spares, and more large heavy spares, and spacewalks to bolt them to station. Once the Shuttle is DOA, then there's no more control-moment gyros, large sample freezers, standard lab racks, etc etc.
"What I don't know about is ground support for the main station by anyone other than NASA."
There's JAXA in Japan, ESA in Germany, and RSA in Russia, but most of the knowledge and experts are at NASA. Russia could run things in a pinch, but they don't have the in-depth knowledge of the design and details of everything.
On the other hand, NASA doesn't know much about the "Russian segment" so RSA is needed as much as NASA.
The UK isn't allowed to spend any money on manned spaceflight.
So having a Brit on the passenger list is a bit tricky for ESA - somehow it has to show that none of the UK's contribution is being used for this guy, while demonstrating to all the other partners that they aren't subsidizing him either.
The ruling comes from an earlier ESA (cough French) plan to build an upowered mini shuttle on top of Ariane - called Hermes. This would allow a couple of european (cough French) astronauts to go into orbit to the greater glory of europe (cough France).
the project was known in the UK aerospace industry as <muppet voice>frogs .. in ... space'
The UK government cynically thought this obviously worthwhile project might be hijacked by other countries (cough France) for political gain and because they didn't trust the scientists to make the correct decisions on the project - they made it illegal to use British funding for manned space flight.
The USA is developing a human-rated (recent term!) rocket system that is MUCH less expensive than Shuttle. Support, consumables, etc. cause Shuttle launches to be over $200MM (some say $700MM) when Russia can launch for $30MM. The Russians have cornered the market for economical launch systems (congrats).
The tight economy has accentuated the need to pursue this path. The USA will do its best to give the Russians a run-for-their-money as quickly as we can.
"So if USA / NASA go home and abandon the party, can the rest of the world carry on without them?"
Lord I hope so. I'm tried of funding this boondoggle. If the only way to attract "great scientists" is to offer them the equivalent of a multi-million dollar Disney ride, then something is seriously amiss.
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I remember reading a year or so ago that the Americans can the ISS retired and (I think) deorbited by about 2012, just a few years after it was due to be completed. I can't understand this, why the need to have something new every so often? I know that space is an environment that is highly damaging, with atomic oxygen, high radiation levels etc. causing deterioration to surfaces and solar panels far faster than they would on earth, but doesn't it seem that America is acting rashly and a being a little bit of a bully here? They wanted Mir deorbited (presumably so that it wouldn't "interfere" with their grand space station plans?) and now they are due to retire the space shuttle, leaving them possibly without any form of man rated launch vehicle for 5 years or more. Incidentally, I have written a little bit on the retirement of STS; its at http://www.paullee.com/bandb/ - just search for the word "jihad"
In view of its apparent value (i.e., why it's there in the first place) if they can't agree, surely the worst scenario in 2015 would be to de-orbit it. If they can't decide, surely the most sensible would be to park it in a far higher orbit 'till they think about it for awhile. Don't think its particularly prone to rusting.
I'd man it on my own for a year or so for bugger all, as long as I still got my dole money. A nice rest from 'er indoors...
>In view of its apparent value (i.e., why it's there in the first place)
Why it was there was to be a money pit.
It was a way of financing Boeing/Rockwell/Lockheed etc when it looked like they would be in trouble at the end of the cold war (and presumably the same for MIG, Sukhoi etc)
It also gave Nasa something to do when they didn't really have a role.
If the USA doesn't want the ISS anymore how about they just give the damn thing to the ESA or the UN? That way they don't have to pay for its operation or the cost to decommission it.
I'm only half joking, the USA knows the ISS is a money pit, not that there hasn't been some good science done on it, but because of all the politics, mismanagement, budget cuts and cost over runs it has become a huge white elephant that nobody wants to pay for.
Maybe we should just stuff it full of supplies and fuel for the VASIMR engines that are due to be fitted to the station and send the thing to Mars on a low power orbit. Then when we finally send a mission they won't need to carry as much.
"...a Belgian, Frank De Winne, became ISS commander in 2009...."
Bugger. A famous Belgian who isn't fictional? That's that pub game off the menu then.
Note for those who've not done this: This one's played when everyone's already well shitfaced and starts with someone asking: "Name a famous Belgian?". The game proceeds, after about five minutes of head-scratching, with someone saying "Hercule Poirot?" (sometimes "TinTin") and being forced to buy a round of drinks for being silly. The game ends about 20 minutes after someone says "Jean-Claude Van Damme"* when nobody can think of another one.
Yes, it is just a way of getting some pissed-up smartarse to buy a round of drinks. It's Friday. I make no apologies.
*Saying "Eddy Merckx" is considered bad form and marks you as a cycling enthusiast. Anyone using this is asked to remove themselves to the Snug Bar where the trainspotters hang out.
Jean Claude van Damme, I knew, but not Audrey Hepburn; Solvay (of the eponymous process) and the guy who invented Bakelite; Rubens, Magritte (and didn't Van Gogh came from somewhere that is _now_ Belgium?); Eddy Merckx has won the Tour de France what, half a dozen times? You don't need to be a cycling buff to have heard the name, any more than you are if you know the name Chris Hoy.
Imagine my shame when someone said 'Albert Claude' - the guy I should have remembered from my genetics degree as the one who first isolated a cancer cell. Ok Tin Tin doesn't count, but his author, Herge, surely does.
We all know at least 5 famous Belgians, we just don't know they were Belgian.
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