Other Free Encyclopedias » Science Encyclopedia » Science & Philosophy: Adam Smith Biography to Spectroscopic binary » Manned Spacecraft - Ongoing Debate: Crewed Vs. Uncrewed Flight, Overview, One-person Crewed Spacecraft, Two- And Three-person Spacecraft - Technical requirements of crewed spacecraft

Manned Spacecraft - The Future Of Crewed Space Flight

station project international iss

The ultimate goal of space programs in both the Soviet Union and the United States has been the construction of an Earth-orbiting space station, with vague hopes of establishing permanent Moon, bases, mounting there-and-back-again expeditions to Mars, or even colonizing Mars. Today, all these goals hang on the fate of the International Space Station.

Planning for the International Space Station began in 1984 as the result of a directive by then-President Ronald Reagan. According to original plans, construction of the space station was to have begun in 1995 and to have been completed four years later. However, budget problems in the United States and recessions in much of the rest of the world raised questions about the cost of the project. The space station design became much smaller when in 1993 President Bill Clinton called for it to be redesigned. The new plan considerably reduced the size of the station, and took on international partners in order to further reduce U.S. costs.

In December, 1993 the countries involved in the space station project invited Russia to join them. The Russians agreed. With Russian participation, the space station project underwent some major changes. Russia's 20-plus years of experience with operating space stations paved the way for the space station to take on a new appearance. The first phase was a series of shuttle-Mir missions. There were nine docking missions between 1995 and 1998, testing the technologies needed to build the space station, examining the space environment, and conducting other experiments. From 1998, the second phase—construction and operation of the station—finally got under way.

The International Space Station (ISS) is NASA's biggest project since Apollo. Since the mid-1990s, however, NASA has been faced with budget cuts and skepticism about the ISS from its European partners, while Russia, too, has struggled economically. To avoid delays and keep reductions in the scale of the space station project to a minimum, international cooperation has become more important than ever, with 16 countries participating. In January 1998, Russian President Boris Yeltsin agreed to allocate more funds to the ISS project, easing fears among other project partner countries that Russia was losing enthusiasm for the project.

Construction of ISS began in November 1998 with the launch of the Zarya cargo block from Russia. In 1999, a total of 44 launches were projected to complete the facility in 2004; after the Columbia disaster of 2003, however, it is an open question as to whether construction will proceed on schedule. If its original design is fulfilled, the ISS will have an end-to-end length of 356 ft (109 m) (longer than a football field), 290 ft (88 m) wide, and 143 ft (44 m) tall. It will have a mass of nearly one million pounds (450,000 kg) and a pressurized living and working space of 46,000 cubic feet (1,300 cubic meters), enough for up to seven astronauts. It will cost about $50–100 billion to build, launch, and operate for a decade.

The Salyut 7 space station photographed in orbit. Attached to the space station at the bottom, with the separate solar panels, is the Soyuz T14 ferry spacecraft. Soyuz T14 was launched on September 17, 1985 and carried cosmonauts Vladimir Vasyutin, Alexander Volkov, and Georgi Grechko to Salyut 7. Their mission was terminated when Vasytin became seriously ill, and they returned to Earth on November 22, 1985. Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.

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