Should Space Station Funding Be a Greater Priority?

spaceThe White House and NASA announced in a joint statement that they would like to keep the International Space Station (ISS) open through 2024, an extension of four years. According to White House science adviser John Holdren and NASA administrator Charles Bolden, the station “offers enormous scientific and societal benefits.” As NASA considers sending astronauts deeper into space, one area they plan to study is the effects of long-duration space flight. Other plans for the ISS include studies of long-range space flight for private space industry. Funding must be approved by Congress.

Rod Pyle is a best-selling author and producer of award-winning documentaries whose clients have included NASA. “The space station can be useful beyond 2020 and an extension is likely to be funded eventually,” says Pyle. “The ISS is the most expensive machine ever created and our only national asset in space, excepting un-crewed planetary exploration programs. However, with the substantial resources being diverted to the SLS, a current lack of crewed launch capability and a lack of meaningful direction in human spaceflight a better question might be ‘To what end.’ The ISS has many uses beyond any potential involvement in missions beyond LEO, such as biomedical and materials research. Arguing that we need the ISS to prepare for long-duration human spaceflight, in the current political climate, rings hollow. Plans- and funding- for crewed exploration beyond low earth orbit are scarce and, at this point, unlikely.”

Pyle continues, “A robust re-commitment to human space exploration, along with continued and enhanced funding for JPL’s extraordinarily successful planetary program, must be the new mandate for NASA. Additionally, sending more resources to the private sector via COTS and associated programs- as previously promised- is a must. The SLS, as designed, is widely viewed as untenable, and the asteroid capture and rendezvous program has little support within Congress and even less in the general public. It’s time for a new national dialog about, and recommitment to, human space exploration by the United States.”

Dan Haydu is an aerospace engineer retired from the United States Air Force. “Personally, I believe extending operations of the ISS is a no-brainer,” agrees Haydu. “It took longer than expected to get it fully up and running and to shut it down while it is still providing a valuable service to science would be a HUGE blunder. Granted, some problems have occurred but they’ve been handled smoothly without any real impact to the personnel on board or the mission at the time.”

Haydu explains, “The huge stumbling block is with Congress. I’d like to see the funding approved, but don’t hold out much hope.  Not having the ISS to continue to explore the capabilities of long-term human existence in space would severely damage any potential to go beyond the Earth-Moon locale, thus hampering an already castrated NASA. By extending the mission and furthering research, any long-range mission would benefit from the findings. We could then determine how to enable space travelers to complete trips to asteroids, Mars and beyond.”

Retired NASA research scientist Charles Ivie worked on the original Space Station freedom planning project in the 1980s. “The ISS is a powerful tool for the unification of space-related technologies and projects from around the world, and support is money well spent,” discusses Ivie. “Continued operation of the station represents minimal cost when compared to other government activities and yet produces enormous gains. The recent participation of private companies in support of station maintenance is a powerful stimulus to science and the economy. Space Station funding must be continued.”

Zintro has experts in every industry sector, across every job function, in every geographic region. Recently, some of the following topics have seen inquiry activity: