In what is sure to be one of the most--if not the most--expensive crashes ever, Russia's space agency said today that when the International Space Station has completed its life cycle in 2020, it will be crashed into the ocean.
By our count, that's a $4.5 billion crash (that's not counting the more than $2 billion per year spent to keep the ISS in service since 1998). But better to crash in the ocean than in orbit, Roskosmos's (that's the Russian space agency) deputy head said today. The ISS is simply too big to leave in orbit--a collision with something up there could lead to a huge proliferation in orbiting space junk.
It's the same fate that met the Mir in 2001, which Russia deorbited and sank in the Pacific. If I were the head of a major television network, I'd be trying to secure the rights to the next impact now. A multibillion piece of sophisticated orbiting space habitat is sure to make a serious splash.
Wow, that is taking wastefulness to a whole new extreme.
One assumes that they will send up someone on a mission to cannibalize the station before it is crashed. Just imagine what we could learn from the old electronics and what have you. Decades in zero grav would make just about everything valuable for study before essentially the shell is crashed into the ocean, which we can also learn from. Wouldn't it be intriguing if we could somehow move or tow the ISS to say the moon and use it for the foundation of a small moon colony? This is just a few ideas that are better than simply dropping billions in cold hard cash and equipment into an ocean.
Why not load it up with sensors and just send it out of the solar system? What a waste indeed!
Make it crash on the moon, that way, we'll have some ressources to reuse (using japanese robots or something like that).
We'd have some modules or wires or whatever we can find in the debris that might decrease the cost of building on the moon...
Did they not here of recycling?
land it on the moon or crash it...at-least it can be scavenged in the future!
What a waste!, as TheBaldFish suggested, it could put to some use in the moon or even Mars.
I agree create a landing module for it and land it on the moon or mars as a step to colonization.
It'll make one helluva HD Video!
Perhaps they could engineer some type of attaché propulsion system to the moon and leave it in orbit there. Not too many satellites around the moon currently to interfere with and it give a nice little temporary apartment complex for future would be moon adventures. There is no way anyone can see it as a temporary safe haven in an emergency of space travel? Since when did Russia have the dominating vote in this decision too?
We could blast it to the Orion Galaxy and show our alien ancestors what we made. It would be like show and tell to Mom and Pop. Oh, sorry, I digress..... lol.
Seems like you should be able to shut it down and move it to a higher/different orbit. Sure, it'd cost some dough, but surely we'll want/have another space station at some point in the future. Wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run to just mothball it?
Prior to Russia dumping into the ocean, can't a private company go up there and scavenge. Seems like there is a lot of exotic metals up there and exotic technologies. A third party space company may make good use of the solar panels and assorted gadgets. Does it really have to be dumped down the toilet, really?!
In 9 years, all interested parties can simply go to each country and purchase the modules. If you are very ambitious, you can start your lobbying now. When you and your conglomeration own it, you can put it in orbit around any moon, planet or star you wish. All it takes is money.
Plans to move it will never fly, literally. The Bureaucratic vipers nest that pays NASA's bills has already cut major funding to a number of multi-billion dollar projects, what's $2 bil in the ocean? And the Russians are making the call because they are the only primary partner who has the capacity to de-orbit the ISS, and at the rate the US debt is climbing, they may remain the only ones capable of bringing it down.
And to move the ISS to the moon, NASA would have to do a study on the feasibility of doing the study to send the station into lunar orbit, and by the time the study for sending the ISS to the moon is complete, 2020 would be right around the corner. The best we can hope for, maybe Branson will buy it up for his orbital hotel chain...
The International Space Station needs to be the cornerstone for a larger system of modules owned by both government and private industry.
Sending it to the moon or out of earths orbit isn't really an option. Thats a lot of mass that you would need to move, so you would need some serious rocket power to do it. Not to mention the station probably wasn't designed to be moved in that manner and would likely disintegrate if you tried to use large rockets to move it.
Theres also the obselesence factor. The main part of the ISS has been up there since 1998. This means much of the design is from early to mid 90's technology. At some point, this old technology will become too much of an impediment to be useful.
You also have to consider maintainability and reliability. Eventually, the ISS is going to start to break down at a rate that either keeps astronauts busy doing repairs, or becomes overwhelming to the point that they can't keep up the repairs, flying in the face of the original mission of the ISS for research.
I agree its a shame to waste that much money like that, but there really aren't any alternatives here. With the retirement of the space shuttle, they don't even really have the option of salvage since they really don't have anything to bring large equipement back with. Leaving it up there not only raises the risk of more space debris, but also raises the risk that we lose all control over it and it crashes back to earth on its own, potentially over land instead of in the ocean.
[ps. you guys should get a google+1 button]
When some radical group does a terrorist act on USA (2 Towers) yes we need to kick their butt! But in Afghanistan and IRAQ and surround Easter Countries have been fighting with each other 1000s of years. They raise their babies and small children to hate, kill, war and die, literally. We USA are not going to make a social difference there at all and should stop dumping our trillions of dollars in that part of the world. We need to bring our Military home and protect our borders and save money this way..... Yes it is off the subject of ISS but its simuliar in the sense of saving money....
Environmentalist will probably object to this and prohibit the space station from being junked in the seas. Then what?
Why not just vaporize it with a nuke? Oh wait, no nukes in space right?
couldn't they tow or push towards one of the Lagrangian points and use it as as fueling station for deep space exploration
@ lcpltom, isnt it already moving,just like they use thruster to adjust its orbit now just start adding better ones from now instead of planning for it demise.You dont need to heavy lifters just nice and gental pulls and pushes its already in orbit
Fold up the solar panels, and use the worlds biggest solar sail to tow it slowly up wherever. Sure it would take 10yrs, but whats the rush. Just a shame to waste all the energy it took to get that stuff up that high.
dit, dit, dit dit, this just in. Recently a "space nat" was found living in the ISS. It is a one of a kind type insect and near exstinction. We must spend all our monies in the world to save the "space nat."
I agree with blitz32. Use it as a fueling station for deep space exploration. It is brilliant! Or at least have it orbit mars and it will be a big help in aiding us to colonizing mars!
Seriously though if they crash 8-10 billion dollars in the ocean and waste it like that, then they deserve to be punished for a millennium! That is everbody's tax money all 308 million of us! And I don't think they are gunna wunna piss that many people off!
Maybe we can sell it to the Chinese. They could put it on display in the lobby of their orbital space hotel.
Soooo, we decide live with our Aunt for a while, because we are currenlty having money problems paying our bills. As we leave our home, we leave the keys to the house ( ISS ) with the neighbor next door. They smile and wave as we leave, smiling, waving. Once we get to our Aunts, yes we sell the family car ( space shuttle ). Now a week passes and suddenly for no apparent reason the house is a fire. Hmmm, how could that happen the Russia family says, as a little smile comes across their face.
Clearly, very few of you commentors understand orbital mechanics. You are all just knowledgeable enough to be very very dangerous. The amount of money it would take to move the extremely fragile ISS anywhere would be astronomical. You can't just pick an aim point in space (moon, L1, L2, etc.) and fire thrusters from where you are to get there. As for the question "why does Russia get to decide?": the answer lies in the fact that Americans can no longer get there on our own. Russia has essentially taken adverse possession of the ISS and can do as they please. Honestly, I think the statement is made in hopes that the US will respond with a plea to Russia to not junk the ISS. Russia will then raise their prices to get there (all while still holding all the power because we can't get our butts off the ground).
Chew on that...
Reading from CNN, it is project with the cost of social security and rising cost of medicare, it all begin to go bust at 2020. So, I basically reading from Russia as we land our space shuttles, " We own the ISS now and in 2020 we will slap a wet fish in your face as the USA goes belly up!
Unfortunately, that's not quite how it works. The thrusters that keep the ISS in orbit are small RCS thrusters used mostly for attitude/altitude control and debris escape maneuvers. And although the station is already "moving," that's the natural speed of its orbit around the planet. It's not like it's constantly accelerating. The station wouldn't be able to take the sort of structural strain that large rocket boosters would present.