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Space Station To Be Deorbited After 2020

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the that'll-be-a-sad-day dept.

Space 572

astroengine writes "Russia and its partners plan to plunge the International Space Station (ISS) into the ocean at the end of its life cycle after 2020 so as not to leave space junk, the space agency said on Wednesday. 'After it completes its existence, we will be forced to sink the ISS. It cannot be left in orbit, it's too complex, too heavy an object, it can leave behind lots of rubbish,' said deputy head of Roskosmos space agency Vitaly Davydov."

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572 comments

"Russia and its partners"?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36894924)

Why don't we get a say in this?

Oh, right, I forgot; Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect have remodeled our space policy.

Re:"Russia and its partners"?! (4, Funny)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#36894960)

'After it completes its existence, we will be forced to sink the ISS. It cannot be left in orbit, it's too complex, too heavy an object, and those blasted Americans on-board periodically broadcast Vogon poetry,' said deputy head of Roskosmos space agency Vitaly Davydov."

Re:"Russia and its partners"?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895034)

Because America is giving up on its own space program, that's why. You've given up on the idea of exploring the stars in favour of vaporizing as many brown-skinned people as you can and claiming the one populated planet in the solar system as your own. You don't DESERVE to have a say in it. You're arrogant, backward people. How ironic it will be when the people who don't believe in evolution eventually die out because they failed to achieve it.

And no one will miss you.

Re:"Russia and its partners"?! (0)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895158)

u mad bro?

Re:"Russia and its partners"?! (1, Insightful)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895522)

As an American, I know I am. I don't like how many steps back we are taking. Decommissioning the ISS doesn't bother me as much as the rally against intellectuals. I find it terribly frightening when the term "elitist" is used in a derogatory fashion. I would hope for all of our leaders to be elitist. I want our best to be in charge. Maybe some day in the future a nice country can come along and liberate us.

Re:"Russia and its partners"?! (0)

x6060 (672364) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895360)

HAHAHAHA! Its ok little man. We'll still continue to protect you. You're welcome. =)

Re:"Russia and its partners"?! (1)

EraserMouseMan (847479) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895604)

Folks, try not to look at this as the end of USA's dominance in space. The silver lining in all this is that Bigelow and SpaceX will pick up where our government is leaving off. And future Senators and Presidents can't de-fund private industry led efforts to explore space. It's classic trickle-down. Exploring space will be more secure in the hands of private industry. Elon Musk's (SpaceX) goal is to die on Mars. The visionaries are private citizens now. It's a new promising age.

Re:"Russia and its partners"?! (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895402)

Why doesn't the US get a say in it? Because the US either agrees to Russia's demands, or they get denied passage on the Soyuz, plain and simple.

Why? (2, Insightful)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36894928)

Why couldn't they nudge it out of orbit instead? Send it off to roam deep space? That would make a far more romantic end, rather than being designated space junk and dumped into the ocean.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895000)

Because that would take a *lot* of fuel.

Re:Why? (1)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895058)

Oh, pity. We couild start a collection? What about these sling-shots they manage in the movies?

Re:Why? (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895430)

You can use a planet's gravity to alter the motion of a craft relative to the sun, but not relative to the planet itself - it still needs to come in at a speed greater than the planet's escape velocity. The Wikipedia article [wikimedia.org] has a decent explanation, actually, if you're interested.

Practicalities aside, nice as it would be to see it drift off into the sunset, I rather like the idea that I might be able to find a hunk of the ISS while diving one day, however slim the chances are of it actually happening.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895008)

It takes a lot more energy to take things out of orbit than to just let them crash in a controlled manner.

By energy, read money.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895076)

As already mentioned, the thing tries to deorbit itself anyway, so it it a relatively minor issue to apply thrust at the right time to force a known impact spot. There is a 2 mile/sec delta-V needed to send it off into deep space, to be applied to how many tons? Applied with what? Interesting that this is not a NASA announcement...

Re:Why? (1)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895236)

Yes, but all it needs is a push, no finese needed... surely there must be a cheap way of pushing it? A bomb for example?

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895298)

Get yourself a toy boat and some fireworks. Float the boat in some body of water. Now use the firecrackers to get it to move.

Its not that easy to use a bomb as a propulsion device.

Re:Why? (1)

orangeyoda (958347) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895358)

As already mentioned, the thing tries to deorbit itself anyway, so it it a relatively minor issue to apply thrust at the right time to force a known impact spot. There is a 2 mile/sec delta-V needed to send it off into deep space, to be applied to how many tons? Applied with what? Interesting that this is not a NASA announcement...

NASA always said that it was going to be de-orbited 10 years after completion. Unless they have changed it, it will be a European Cargo ship that will perform the burn. Can't see what the problem is, really, it's a joint venture guys.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895210)

Or apply enough boost to get it to geo-stationary orbit. It might not be manned, but it would still be somewhat usable after 2020.

It could be the start of the space elevator...

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895356)

In an ideal world, all the governments of the world would coat it in a special atmosphere-proof heat-shield of goo, and attach parachutes - big ones. Then plunge it into the atmosphere and hopefully save whats left in a space museum.

In fact if it was scorched from the atmosphere it would look all the better in a museum - more life like.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895362)

ISS doesn't deserve a romantic end. Bring it back down so that we can piss on it. It was a money sink that did very little of anything valuable, and robbed funds from other far more deserving projects. I'm not even one of those "We shouldn't have manned exploration!" people, but seeing this thing still receive funding while the James Webb Telescope is about to have funding dropped just makes me want to puke.

If we really had wanted to move forward, we should have set-out to create a permanent presence on the moon, not in LEO.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895578)

If we really had wanted to move forward, we should have set-out to create a permanent presence on the moon, not in LEO.

I disagree.
The ISS is intended to do zero gravity research. The moon doesn't have zero G, and is completely unsuitable for the job the ISS is built for.

You're just dreaming about traveling to the stars. The ISS however is conducting ordinary research. Some of that research can later be used if we travel to the stars, btw.

Re:Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895382)

Yeah.
Why not just reinforce it, add a satellite that focuses sunlight on to it for energy and propulsion, then blast it off in to the solar system?
Hydroponics, blah blah etc.

I'm sure there are some families of people who would be willing to be on it for life, possibly agonizing death. Who knows, maybe even some psychotic clowns and maddening artificial intelligence would like to hop on too and recreate possibly BYONDs only good game. (ish)

Oh wait, money is still a problem. Damn it society, hurry up and ditch money already! This mess we are in right now proves how worthless and meaningless the shit is.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895386)

Because we don't want the Vogon's to get our technology

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

vinlud (230623) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895552)

The Space Station is in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and will fall to the Earth without its regular altitude boosts

Getting the Space Station in a Geo synchronous orbit, let alone deep space (that means outside of the solar system), is a totally different league in terms of needed energy to overcome the gravity well called Earth and mainly the Sun. I can't be bothered to do the calculations but the amount of energy needed for a massive object as the ISS will be staggering.

Also question is for what? Most of the ISS is build for local gravity experiments maintained by manned personel. It has communications optimized for a LEO, etcetera. It won't be able to do much which can't be done by much cheaper ways with a new space probe.

It's like saying you can reach your local California supermarket with your bike, so hey you should be able to go to Hawaii with it as well!

Where to deorbit (3, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#36894942)

Does anyone have a suggestion as to where we could land this thing? It's kinda heavy and sure to crush anything in its path. I mean we COULD land it in the ocean but wouldn't it be better to land it on someone's house that we don't like?

Re:Where to deorbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36894980)

How much of it is going to survive re-entry?

Re:Where to deorbit (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895252)

I got a pretty big field out in back of my house. Y'all can use that if you want.

Re:Where to deorbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895374)

that would be pretty awesome, to be able to precisely deorbit the ISS into a field out back of a house.
by precise I just mean 'hit within a square mile of target'.

Re:Where to deorbit (4, Funny)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895424)

Michael Bay's house perhaps? He could have his very own simulated cometary impact. I'm sure he'd approve of the pyrotechnics and flying dirt and debris when he is crushed. We wouldn't even have to move the thing, just leave the twisted metal and smoking craters as a monument to bad movies and their inevitable consequences.

Re:Where to deorbit (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895468)

You could store it in my brother-in-law's front yard. There's room behind his collection of washing machines, next to the front half of a 1970's Chevy.

Isn't that a given? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#36894950)

It was my understanding that the ISS *can't* maintain its orbit without periodic boosts (I could be mistaken there). So since when it leaving it as "space junk" even an option? If you stop maintaining it, it's going to deorbit one way or another. It's really only a question of whether or not it's a *controlled* deorbit.

It's really only a question of whether or not it's (4, Informative)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895198)

It's really only a question of whether or not it's a *controlled* deorbit.

exactly. uncontrolled deorbit leads to debris.

Re:Isn't that a given? (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895248)

I'd guess that it would start tumbling first and fling off a whole bunch of debris before plunging into the atmosphere.

You want to bring it down in one piece. It's the debris that's worrisome. The big pieces they can track. It's the nuts, wrenches, and other bits that give the controllers fits. A nut travelling at 3 km/s is a pretty deadly proijectile (even if your speed is pretty close to that....) A .22 rifle bullet travels at what, 300 m/s, weighs a lot less than a nut, and will kill you. A delta of 300 m/s is not so great in orbit.

Re:Isn't that a given? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895448)

The ISS is in a sufficiently low orbit that it experiences substantial decay(it is 'in space' but only barely, enough that the photovoltaic arrays are re-positioned to reduce drag when not generating power).

Real or just political maneuvering? (2)

Rotag_FU (2039670) | more than 2 years ago | (#36894984)

Now that the Space Shuttle has been retired, is this just a political maneuver to get more funding by making a "modest proposal" of what will happen if they don't? Considering the extended time and money it took to assemble, it seems like a huge waste to deorbit it in just 9 years.

Re:Real or just political maneuvering? (1)

Aerorae (1941752) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895012)

Exactly!! They just FINISHED the damn thing! What a waste!

silly asses (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895046)

It's skylab all over again.
"oops, we don't have the launch capability to boost the station before it falls flaming from the sky"

Re:silly asses (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895618)

not true, the Russian Progress freighters can and have boosted orbit. No need for U.S. craft for the continued existence of the ISS.

Re:Real or just political maneuvering? (4, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895048)

It is in a harsh environment. It was not built to last forever. It needs periodic boosting to stay in orbit.

Re:Real or just political maneuvering? (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895220)

"As of February 2010, a 2011/2012 launch of an Ad Astra VF-200 200 kW VASIMR electromagnetic thruster is planned for placement and testing on the International Space Station. The VF-200 is a flight version of the VX-200.[33] though it may be later.[34][35] Since the available power from the ISS is less than 200 kW, the ISS VASIMR will include a trickle-charged battery system allowing for 15 min pulses of thrust. Testing of the engine on ISS is valuable because ISS orbits at a relatively low altitude and experiences fairly high levels of atmospheric drag, making periodic boosts of altitude necessary. Currently, altitude reboosting by chemical rockets fulfills this requirement. If the tests of VASIMR reboosting of the ISS goes according to plan, the increase in specific impulse could mean that the cost of fuel for altitude reboosting will be one-twentieth of the current $210 million annual cost.[34] Hydrogen is generated by the ISS as a by-product, which is currently vented into space."
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster [wikipedia.org]

Re:Real or just political maneuvering? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895538)

Ion engines like this on space stations is really cool. Potentially, a powerful enough one could be used to slow boost, well, just about anything to just about any orbit, given enough time. It could even lift an object to the moon (it would take a while, but for robotic probes, who cares?). Meaning that we could use chemical rockets only to reach LEO, and after than lift everything with ion engines. Cheap geosynchronous satellites, supplies for interplanetary travel, you name it. And the engine could lower its own orbit and be reused for another package after its done. It needs some fuel, true, but nowhere near as much as chemical thrust does.

Re:Real or just political maneuvering? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895202)

> it seems like a huge waste to deorbit it in just 9 years.

A lot can happen in nine years, another war(s) can happen in nine years. We could also acquire new partners and ideas, however. But it seems ridiculous to de-orbit the station with nine years of use even though it took 25 to build it. But maybe that's why: Companies are not going to make more money because there is nothing more on ISS to build (there is but ain't got nothin' to carry more modules to it).

Great idea..... (1)

RLU486983 (1792220) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895004)

let's dump more garbage into our oceans. Its not like they're struggling to survive against the onslaught of man already!

Re:Great idea..... (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895090)

Would you prefer they dumped the ISS on land...? I assume they'll make efforts to collect it when it comes down.

Re:Great idea..... (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895154)

Would you prefer they dumped the ISS on land...?

Of course. A colony drop would be preferable but a station drop will do.

Re:Great idea..... (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895218)

let's dump more garbage into our oceans. Its not like they're struggling to survive against the onslaught of man already!

Get with the program: it's called "creating an artificial reef to encourage wildlife" :-)

Actually, we mammals did pretty well the last time something big dropped out of the sky and wiped out the dominant species.

Sadly, the ISS is just too tiny to make a sufficiently large bang to pass on the favor to the next up and coming class of lifeforms (although the news media will probably act like it is).

Re:Great idea..... (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895558)

Sadly, the ISS is just too tiny to make a sufficiently large bang to pass on the favor to the next up and coming class of lifeforms

Why sadly?

The oceans like this kind of garbage (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895230)

We purposely sink ships and subs to create artificial reefs.

Re:Great idea..... (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895254)

I didn't realize the oceans were struggling to survive at all. I thought they were getting more powerful and increasing in size, claiming more and more of man's land as its own.

Yeah right (2)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895038)

Seriously, what the hell? Does the ISS really have no use beyond 2020, who are these unnamed 'partners', and do they really think they have the final say as to what happens to the billions worth of international moneys that have been invested in the ISS?

Re:Yeah right (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895206)

The ISS is a partnership between a few nations. They collective decide its fate. Considering its of questionable utility in the first place and an incredible drain of funds, I wouldn't mind seeing it die earlier. That money could be spent on a whole bunch of space missions or pay for a Mars or asteroid mission.

Most likely a lot of the design and maintenance had a end date. The engineers built it to last x amount of years. Going beyond 2020 might make it more economically unfeasible than it already it. Not to mention, keeping old projects alive past their time is why we're in such a mess with the shuttle now. We don't need to lose two ISS crews before we realize that, yes, its time for change.

Re:Yeah right (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895482)

The ISS was conceived as a symbol for international cooperation in space. With war being what has tightened the budget so, I hate to think what smothering this baby in its crib means for mankind.

Re:Yeah right (1)

RMingin (985478) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895602)

War. War never changes...

...but it does adequately convey the default state of humanity.

Re:Yeah right (3, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895442)

Maybe they could auction it off to one of the billionaire's space adventure companies. If they get any money for it and it keeps the station in orbit, that's a win/win!

Re:Yeah right (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895550)

not an issue of worth, but of danger. Things degrade pretty quickly in space. This isn't really news, they did the same things with MIR for the same reason.

Orbital Cleanup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895056)

Why not turn it into a broom? Cover it in aerogel, bump it into a dirty orbit, and catch all those pieces of space debris that are making planners panic. Then go for the de-orbit. Waste not, want not.

Re:Orbital Cleanup (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895194)

That's an interesting idea.

You'd first have to remove anything that would get broken very easily, and depressurize the station, so it didn't contribute to the mess if something were to go poorly.

Then you'd need to maneuver it all over the place over a fairly long time, because that "shell" is... forgive the expression... astronomically large. Think about the volume of that space you want to clean up, and compare to the volume of the space station. That's an awfully small broom for an awfully big place. Car analogy? Okay. It's kind of like trying to clean a four-lane highway using that little tiny broom that comes with a dustpan, complete with traffic whooshing past.

So...logistically, it's a nightmare, but it could possibly be done if you really worked hard at it.

Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895062)

At the cost of how many billions of dollars? It's barely been completed (has it been actually?) and they are already scheduling it's destruction.

The next station we orbit needs to be permanent; otherwise this is just a disgusting waste of money. Can anyone point to any substantive technical or science benefits from this thing to-date? beyond 'practicing living and working in space'?

ffs.

Re:Pathetic (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895118)

Engineers are pretty much trained to have an end-of-life plan for everything they design and build nowadays. Doesn't mean it will happen that way. In my company we are still using equipment that we planned on scrapping years ago.

Re:Pathetic (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895472)

Hey, I know they're just VB developers, but it's still not cool to talk about them as if they're objects that you can just scrap.

Mir was only supposed to last five years (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895526)

They ran it for 15.

You never know what will happen to the plans in the future.

Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895088)

How many billions of dollars were spent on this thing over the years? And what exactly were the benefits of spending it? Are those who benefited from having it there the ones who paid for it? Or, was this just another hundred billion dollars of taxpayer money down the hole to benefit corporations?

Russia and America can agree on one thing (-1, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895092)

It should be aimed directly at the Ka'ba, preferably on Tuesday, 10th August 2021

Re:Russia and America can agree on one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895322)

It should be aimed directly at the Ka'ba, preferably on Tuesday, 10th August 2021

This kind of comment is one of the main reasons why the US has such a poor reputation.

Re:Russia and America can agree on one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895498)

It should be aimed directly at the Ka'ba, preferably on Tuesday, 10th August 2021

Saudi Arabia is a major ally of the US. Why would the US attack its territory?

Next stop: Moon (1)

demmer (623592) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895100)

That's just sad... it should be landed on the moon. It it's too big in one piece, dismantle it and land the components. Even refurbishing as a "robot station" with just that robotic arm and the solar sails and some positioning systems for satellite repair or something would be better, than letting it all crash and burn. how about parking it in a different orbit... maybe around the moon?

Re:Next stop: Moon (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895294)

That's just sad... it should be landed on the moon. It it's too big in one piece, dismantle it and land the components. Even refurbishing as a "robot station" with just that robotic arm and the solar sails and some positioning systems for satellite repair or something would be better, than letting it all crash and burn. how about parking it in a different orbit... maybe around the moon?

Sure, we'll put it in orbit around the moon. You work out how to get about 6,000 tons of propellent up there and I'll take care of the rest.

New years eve 2020 (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895114)

Sad.. that it cant be moved out into a stationary orbit. Or into an orbit around the moon. But..
New years eve 2020 will be something to remember if you happen see this firecracker hurling across the sky.

Re:New years eve 2020 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895300)

Um... check your math buddy, I don't think it would even possible to move ISS from orbit around Earth to the MOON...

GOING ONCE! GOING TWICE... SOLD!!! (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895148)

I cannot believe the idoiocrity - why not sell the International Space Station to the highest bidder!

It would make for a hell of an orbiting hotel - and I can count half dozen emerging space companies who'd bid on it.

Re:GOING ONCE! GOING TWICE... SOLD!!! (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895622)

Would they maintain it properly? Would they keep it safe from debris collisions, and make sure no bits fall off it to become more debris? Sure, NASA didn't have a 100% track record but I understand that tool bag they lost eventually fell out of orbit. The ISS is a very dangerous place.

The Ocean, really? (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895176)

Don't we put enough crap into the world's oceans? I mean we literally have an island of garbage [wikipedia.org] floating around, why add to the pollution? Why can't we, as another poster said, thrust it off into space, or, thrust it toward the sun and let the sun's gravity suck it in and destroy it?

Re:The Ocean, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36895334)

I guess we could land it on Garbage Island if it's that important to you.

Honestly, if you think it would be practical or even possible to thrust it out of Earth orbit, you do not understand the nature of the problem.

Re:The Ocean, really? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895392)

Don't we put enough crap into the world's oceans? I mean we literally have an island of garbage [wikipedia.org] floating around, why add to the pollution? Why can't we, as another poster said, thrust it off into space, or, thrust it toward the sun and let the sun's gravity suck it in and destroy it?

Do you really want to pay all those extra taxes just to push all that mass into a much higher orbit? You have to push it a long way up the gravity well for it to be in an orbit that doesn't meaningfully decay, and a lot more than that to get to Earth's escape velocity. Dropping it back to Earth is much simpler and cheaper, and the Pacific's a better target than the vast majority of the land surface. (Of course, a lot will burn up on reentry anyway.)

Re:The Ocean, really? (2)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895502)

What if we land the ISS on the island of garbage?

Then we'd have a habitable island of garbage!

Another shot at a free taco? (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895242)

Oh man, I sure hope Taco Bell runs that promotion again - I can taste that meat-flavored filler now!

Re:Another shot at a free taco? (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895584)

Yah, its the perfect ad campaign for them... Flaming debris hitting the water, AM I RITE FELLAS?

Museum material for aliens... (1)

Go_Ask_Alex (459685) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895270)

Why not fill it with an assortment of human knowledge and history and send it off into deep space for alien archeologists? The human race may no longer exist but we can live forever as material for museum exhibitions!

Re:Museum material for aliens... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895506)

That would be fun, but it costs money, and we, as a species, already spent it all on wars and cocaine-n'-hooker parties for our corporate overlords.

Waste, waste, waste... (2)

nurbles (801091) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895274)

It seems to me that we humans should be trying to design something that can recycle and use all those valuable raw materials for other orbital projects. After all, doesn't it cost huge amounts of money for every kilogram lifted to even low orbit? Might it not be more cost effective to create an orbital forge (for lack of a better term) to convert all that into parts for the next station? And if it needs to go to a parking orbit, it still seems cheaper to send up some orbital maneuvering engines for it than to simply dump it as waste into an already polluted ocean. I'm sure this wouldn't be easy, but it might provide some jobs for the thousands of people out of work around here (I live near Cape Canaveral, FL -- we've got a surplus of unemployed NASA/United Space Alliance engineers at the moment) and it might even save lots of money in the long run.

NASA is sitting duck for budget cuts (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895380)

Many voters think NASA is an extravagance compared to other problems the government must solve. Although NASA is only 1-2% of the federal budget, it has been perceived as the most expensive federal program opinion polls [wikipedia.org] up to a quarter of the budget! Although Bush and Obama have already done substantial cutting by eliminating the US manned space program for all practical purposes, the deficit hawks want to eliminate most of the rest of NASA. The hundred billion dollar space station for just two US astronauts at a time is a often mentioned target. The Hubble-replacement Webb telescope is defunded in the next budget, effectively terminating that. And any probe past the Juno and Curiosity launches this year are in serious danger.

I wept in 2001 when so little of the namesake movie had been implemented, but tecnologically could have been. But the US space program of 2020 looks it will be much smaller than the anemic 2010 program.

Re:NASA is sitting duck for budget cuts (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895582)

And at the same time, the NASA budget for a entire year is spend in a few days on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc... North-americans seem to have trouble setting priorities.

Substation? (3, Interesting)

LordStormes (1749242) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895440)

We've always said we wanted to go eventually do a permanent structure on the moon - why not the next best thing? Hook a Dragon up to it, turn on the thrusters, and aim for Luna. Let's put the ISS in orbit around the moon when its lifespan here is up, and voila, we have a permanent structure to study the moon, serve as a waystation / bathroom break rest stop for future interstellar travelers, and it doesn't cost us anything but the fuel of an unmanned rocket. Seems like a no-brainer.

Getting the amount of propellant necessary into space isn't a challenge. We did it in 1969. Yes, we're moving something a little bigger. Fortunately, nice, low gravity and no air resistance means you can move the ISS, very, very slowly, with almost no propellant needed for anything other than getting momentum started, and course corrections. If it takes a month to get there, unmanned, who cares? It took longer to build it than we're letting it run for - why destroy it now?

Is fuel the problem here? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895494)

Come on, there is no use for this station in space now, so all the money is going to be burned maintaining it until 2020, there is no economic incentive to keep it going and it's just a waste of resources and energy. But it's in orbit already, so instead of doing 5 next launches to replace crews in there, they could shoot up a few boosters with fuel in them, attach them to the station, then at some point launch it into a much higher orbit, or even send it to the Moon or Mars. Who needs that station up there now? What use is it? It's a waste of money and resources and energy, it's a jobs program and nothing else.

Dump it now, but dump it with style, calculate a way to push it to an orbit around some other body in space. Mothball it and send it to Mars.

Had a choice between ISS and particle accelerator (1)

The O Rly Factor (1977536) | more than 2 years ago | (#36895586)

Glad to see our money was put to such good use as a permanent base for scientific research for many generations to come, and totally was not a big fat trough of pork for contractors to chow down on. Then again, with costs that ballooned from $4 billion to $12 billion due to contractor greed from poor management and oversight, I guess the other choice was the same exact thing. ( For anyone who doesn't have a damn clue what I am talking about [wikipedia.org] )

Moral of the story: You just can't do science in the United States anymore, because knowledge for the better of humankind simply isn't profitable.
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