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Expensive, but is it worth it? The imminent destruction of the International Space Station raises major questions

Expensive, but is it worth it?  The imminent destruction of the International Space Station raises major questions

Space exploration outer space future international space station.

2023-10-31 19:40:00

The International Space Station has been orbiting our planet for a quarter of a century. Its imminent destruction raises some questions: Is it worth £120 billion to build and operate? Were there important research findings? What would it be instead?

On November 20, 1998, the Russian “Zarya” module was launched, which was the first part of the International Space Station (ISS): today it consists of 16 modules. NASA already announced last year that the 100-meter-long, 400-ton monster should launch in 2031, and will fall into the water at the furthest possible point from the rain in the Pacific Ocean. The maneuver will not pose a danger to people, and the remains will sink without causing any harmful effects, even in the long term. The space station has already exceeded its planned flight life by ten years, while orbiting the Earth sixteen times a day at a speed of 28 thousand kilometers per hour. Naturally, this negatively affects the structure, as it heats up and cools down several times a day, to which vibrations from docking of spaceships and movements of astronauts contribute. No wonder you can tell it’s cracking. There are constant air and coolant leaks, and the technical equipment is rather outdated, The Guardian reads.

The imminent destruction of the International Space Station raises major questions. The first and most controversial is whether it is worth running the £120bn plant for decades.

The US government decided to implement the space station for political reasons. Thus, the European Union was free to build the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, which actually led to a Nobel Prize, while America had “the turkey orbiting the Earth,” as Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist Steven Weinberg called the station Space International. As he said, it has not served any scientific results, and has no real benefit, because people have nothing to gain in space. “Sending people into space becomes less plausible every day as robots become smarter and more sophisticated,” says British astronomer Martin Rees. Just look at the news, he added: The International Space Station makes headlines when a toilet breaks, or an astronaut plays David Bowie on the guitar and sings.

However, these views are fringe for now, as the United States, Japan, Canada and India are planning space stations, and China is already operating its own Tiangong manned space object, which will get bigger and bigger and will last longer than the International Space Station. The United States of America, along with Europe, Canada and Japan, plans to create a space station called “Gateway”, smaller than the International Space Station, which will orbit the moon. Humans will work on it, but robots have already been sent to the moon to build a research base.

At the same time, private companies in space business have also emerged. Houston-based Axiom Space announced last week that it will take four British astronauts to the International Space Station for a two-week stay under a contract with the British Space Agency. In addition, starting in 2026, Axiom plans to add four additional modules to the space station, which will not have to be dropped back to Earth with other parts in 2031, and will be able to operate independently for 15-30 years.

said Michael Payne, the company’s chief engineer. Private companies Orbital Reef and Starlab, backed by NASA, are also looking at space stations as business parks.

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