Completed ISS

With the agreed upon lifespan of the International Space Station coming upon us, the European Space Agency are first to call for an extension of the ISS’s life span from 2015 to 2020.  With no current funding planned after 2015, many are wondering what the fate of the ISS will be after this date.

The ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, is worried that the fact that the ISS’s lifespan is coming to a close, possible research is not being planned for fear that it will never come to pass.  Dordain rightly feels that in order to guarantee the full use of the ISS, proper funding needs to be allocated after the current 2015 termination date.

Astronauts working on the ISS

With the Financial Crisis looming, many participant nations are hesitant to commit funding to a project that doesn’t provide a return on investment financially.  Thus, Dordain has proposed numerous means of cutting back on spending in order to extend the ISS lifespan utilizing the current budget.

“First of all, we have four control centres – one in Houston, one in Oberpfaffenhofen, one in Moscow and one in Tsukuba – and these four control centres are working 24 hours a day. Question mark: Why can’t we use only two of them for 12 hours and then the other two for 12 hours?”, Dordain exclaimed.

His logic is difficult to ignore.  The fact that he is the ESA’s Director General also implies that his suggestion is backed with enough thought and research implying its feasibility.

With construction of the ISS scheduled to be completed next year, it seems a shame to abandon it shortly there after, especially when taking into account that development has been in progress for 12 years already.  It seems extremely wasteful to build something for 13 years, only to abandon it 4 years later.  Of course, much research has been done in the meantime, but much more can be done.