NASA fears leaving space station unmanned (Update)

Aug 30, 2011 by Jean-Louis Santini
This NASA image obtained in May 2011 shows the International Space Station's starboard truss. The possible first-ever evacuation of the International Space Station, if a Russian spacecraft is not launched in November, would risk the loss of the orbiting lab, a NASA official has warned.

The possible first-ever evacuation of the International Space Station, if a Russian spacecraft is not launched in November, would risk the loss of the orbiting lab, a NASA official has warned.

"There is a greater risk of losing the ISS when it's unmanned than if it were manned," Michael Suffredini, the ISS program manager for the US space agency, said on a conference call with reporters.

"The risk increase is not insignificant," he added.

Russia on Monday delayed its next manned Soyuz spacecraft mission to the ISS by at least a month after an unmanned cargo vessel using a similar rocket crashed into Siberia instead of reaching orbit on August 24.

The station crew normally consists of six -- currently three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese -- working six-month rotations.

Neither NASA nor the Russian space agency will allow the astronauts aboard the space station to remain beyond a mandated six-month limit because of the risk posed by exposure to radiation.

And mid-November is considered the last chance to bring the Soyuz space capsule safely back to the steppes of Kazakhstan because of the lengthening night.

Crew safety and the "very big investment" that the Russian and US governments have made in the ISS would guide future decisions, Suffredini said during the call on Monday.

"We prefer not to operate in that condition without crew on board for an extended period of time," he said.

"But assuming the systems keep operating we can command the station from the ground and operate it on orbit indefinitely," he added.

File picture shows the Russian Progress-M-12M cargo ship carrying supplies for the International Space Station (ISS) on the launch pad at the Baikonour cosmodrome on August 24. The supply ship failed to reach orbit shortly after blast-off

Suffredini said some of the scientific experiments on board, however, would have to be suspended because they require the presence of astronauts.

Others, including the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a sophisticated particle physics detector that searches for antimatter and dark matter, and which measures cosmic rays, could be operated from Earth.

Suffredini said he was optimistic the Russians would be able to determine why the upper stage of the rocket launching the supply capsule -- which is the same used for the manned Soyuz -- malfunctioned, and would be able to send up another crew of astronauts to relieve those on board the space station.

The ISS, which orbits 350 kilometers (220 miles) above Earth, is a platform for scientific experiments bringing together space agencies from Russia, the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada.

Launched in 1998, it was initially expected to remain in space for 15 years until an agreement was reached to keep it operating through 2020.

An evacuation of the ISS was planned after the Columbia shuttle disaster killed seven astronauts in 2003, but NASA later decided to keep staff on board the station at all times.

Russian officials expect the next manned launch of a Soyuz craft to take place in late October or early November -- it had initially been scheduled for September 22.

A crew comprising Russians Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev and NASA astronaut Ron Garan went up to the ISS in March to honour the 50th anniversary of the first voyage of space pioneer Yuri Gagarin.

But this month's failed launch was a spectacular blow for Russia after it had become the sole nation capable of taking humans to the ISS following the July retirement of the US space shuttle program.

Explore further: Video gives astronaut's-eye view inside NASA's Orion spacecraft

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User comments : 23

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omatumr
3.6 / 5 (5) Aug 30, 2011
Thanks for the sad news.

I look forward to more information.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Corban
3 / 5 (4) Aug 30, 2011
Russia is now a single point of failure that failed. Thanks to budget cuts trying to shave a couple billion, we may now lose much more. What next, the Hubble telescope falls out of orbit?
Callippo
1.1 / 5 (16) Aug 30, 2011
The scientists are about to pay their twenty years standing ignorance of cold fusion. The world is running out of its money and only the adoption of new energy technology can change it.
sams
5 / 5 (9) Aug 30, 2011
Very poor form by the US government to let it come to this.
omatumr
1 / 5 (8) Aug 30, 2011
The scientists are about to pay their twenty years standing ignorance of cold fusion.


Consensus science, the post-modern version of Lysenkoism [1] has destroyed public confidence in government science because:

1. Lysenkoism [1] gave us supposedly settled science on:

a.) The origin of the Solar System from an interstellar cloud.

b.) A stable H-fusion reactor supplies Earth's constant heat.

c.) CO2 from a once industrial West caused global warming.

d.) Stable H-fusion reactors will meet future energy needs.

2. Empirical reality [2] is different:

a.) The Sun is the unstable remains of a supernova.

b. and d.) There are no stable H-fusion reactors.

c.) CO2 did not cause global warming.

References:

1. Skeptics dictionary, Lysenkoism

www.skepdic.com/lysenko.html

2. Neutron repulsion, The APEIRON Journal, preprint (2011)

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

bluehigh
4.3 / 5 (3) Aug 30, 2011
Russia is now a single point of failure that failed.


The ESA ATV is the biggest cargo carrier to the space station and further scheduled flights start early next year.

SpaceX also have scheduled resupply flights.

Russia is not the only option for resupply. Though its the only option for human manned flights.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 30, 2011
"Consensus science" - Omatard

Is what distinguishes quackery from real science just as Consensus medicine distinguishes quackery from real medicine.

Sorry OmaTard, but your belief that the sun is a neutron star powered by non-existent Neutron/Neutron repulsion will never be accepted since it is quackery.
Vendicar_Decarian
3.3 / 5 (12) Aug 30, 2011

"Very poor form by the US government to let it come to this.' - Sams

America is intellectually, fiscally, emotionally, morally, and ethically bankrupt.
Bobamus_Prime
4.6 / 5 (5) Aug 30, 2011
Time for SpaceX to make their move.
hard2grep
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 30, 2011
Our military needs a strategic orbital launch system. This network could make money for OUR GOVERNMENT by selling launches. After all, Our military needs to have this capability first. I imagine a military moon-base that ensure what can be done is already being done.
Doschx
2.5 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2011
Am I the only one who finds it fishy that -the moment- the US retires its manned spacecraft, plan B literally falls apart? It almost seems like something does not want Americans in space. And if the ISS is abandoned, I wonder if capturing it would give any nationalities or corporations a big tech boost, particularly in practical spaceflight. Hmmmm.

Heh, I was just thinking that it would be an awesome conspiracy theory if the Whitehouse sabotaged its own space program so that it could back out of the expensive space game under a guise of shitty luck. Someone go write a novel about that or something. Fun fun.
omatumr
2.4 / 5 (5) Aug 31, 2011
Am I the only one who finds it fishy that -the moment- the US retires its manned spacecraft, plan B literally falls apart?


No.

http://dl.dropbox...inar.doc

http://dl.dropbox...inar.pdf

We seem to have been richly blessed with the old curse,

"May you live in interesting times."
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2011
Our military needs a strategic orbital launch system. This network could make money for OUR GOVERNMENT by selling launches. After all, Our military needs to have this capability first. I imagine a military moon-base that ensure what can be done is already being done.


You mean something like Atlas, Delta and Falcon launch systems that are already flying?

What our government needs is to get out of launch business for good, and buy launches and spacecrafts from commercial companies.
bishop
5 / 5 (1) Aug 31, 2011
Time for europe (ESA) to step up!
Mayday
2.3 / 5 (6) Aug 31, 2011
My bet is that the Chinese will go up and claim it in our absence. Nice trophy.
GSwift7
4.8 / 5 (4) Aug 31, 2011
If it stays empty for a while, I wouldn't want to be the first crew to go back aboard. You would get stuck fixing everything that's not working, and I'm sure there would be a list of stuff that needed to be fixed or maintained.
Bobamus_Prime
5 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2011
Wasn't SpaceX supposed to pushing to have their dragon capsule dock with the ISS soon? Make it happen!
GSwift7
5 / 5 (3) Sep 01, 2011
they would like to, but they are a long way off. Soyuz will be back online before Dragon gets human certified.
gimpypoet
5 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2011
can't blame the government when they are trying to save dollars.blame should rest with the tea party and their refusal to change.Palin doesn't want a space program,bachman doesn't either.The tea party would return us to the dark with all their will to return to superstitious former values. That they are saying that we should use our own resources like shale oil, injectin wells and such is not acceptable.refusing to use modern technology on one hand, returning to old values that haven't worked is absurd.we the people should make the gov't work for us,feed us and our desires, not the way it is now, bleeding us dry to feed itself.If we want a space program,cut big gov't and cut the black-ops bugets and bring home the troops while we still have the duckets to fund their return trips.The gov't cut funding to the space program, could have rebuilt the proven space shuttle with current tech, they went for a new ship design not profitable to build. shame on republicans not working with the pres
gimpypoet
1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2011
sorry for the politics, just sick of excuses. we could have been to mars or where ever we wanted, but the gov't has made its members rich, while forgetting about the people and what we want. Kenedy was killed for attempting to work with communist russia on the space program, and all presidents who have followed have taken that to heart. Sure, its my theory, but ...? we now have a government co-operating with a bigger communist country, China, and we have borrowed so much capitol that we are in debt to them. they ALREADY own the space station, and government wants to cover it up by saying we can't afford it.
GDM
1 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2011
Mayday: China cannot claim anything launched by another country without setting off a global war (a little exageration) due to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The OST is in conflict with current maritime salvage law which could be applied to orbital debris, but has not. The resulting mess is causing a lot of politicians and scientists to wring their hands and worry about what to do next. As long as the OST remains law, orbital debris will continue to build until we will no longer be able to safely travel to orbit, in spite of the efforts of NASA and ESA to find remedies. However, we are in no particular danger of leaving the ISS unoccupied given our capabilities.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Sep 05, 2011
The ESA ATV is the biggest cargo carrier to the space station and further scheduled flights start early next year.

Also there's the japanese HTV series (HTV-3 is planned for early 2012)
omatumr
1 / 5 (2) Sep 05, 2011
"May you live in interesting times."


Is it a coincidence that deception and malfeasance in government science grew out-of-sight, like a tumor, since Henry Kissinger met Chairman Mao secretly in 1971 and ended the space race?

http://dl.dropbox...oots.pdf

a.) Weakening our national security,
b.) Undercutting principles of democracy,
c.) Making a mockery of scientific principles,
d.) Destroying confidence in world leaders, and
e.) Producing a Climate-gate record of 30-years of deception.

http://joannenova...imeline/

For more details of deception in science on Professor Curry's climate blog:

http://judithcurr...l-paper/

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

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