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Thread: Post-International Space Station?

  1. #31
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    I agree with the idea of a spin gravity station, but it's going to have to be leaner and cheaper than the ISS was.

    Let's consider that for better or worse, SLS is going to continue going forward, and someday there's probably going to be a test flight of the thing. There's no budget for any potential payload, though. It's the elephant in the room no one likes to talk about. SLS supporters like to imagine that a magical budget fairy will conjure up the budget for a manned mission to the Moon and/or Mars to put atop the SLS...but that's wishful thinking.

    Instead of just wishing real hard for the magical budget fairy, we could come up with a low budget Plan B, where a couple hollow tanks and a truss is sent up there. This forms the core of a spin station. A future visiting spacecraft could then dock with one end, and use its own thrusters to spin it up to either Lunar or Mars level gravity. Initially, life support would come strictly from the visiting capsule; the station only provides some convenient living space. Incrementally, equipment could be brought on board and installed.

    This would build up the spin gravity station from the outside-in, in a way very much unlike the ISS. The outer shell is provided first, and then equipment is brought to fill it in.

    This takes advantage of about the only good thing you can say about SLS, which is that it can launch something big in one go.

  2. #32
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    Would a tether not be simpler than a truss?

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    Would a tether not be simpler than a truss?
    yes, And a tether with a winch would make for an adjustable spin gravity.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    Would a tether not be simpler than a truss?
    No, it would extremely complicate spin down, spin up, and docking.

    It is important that the station is despun for docking and undocking. All of our current ISS supply spacecraft are designed around docking with something that is not spinning.

    While a tether might be kept taut and stable with a station that is under constant spin, this station needs to periodically stop spinning. This would be a nightmare with a tether.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    No, it would extremely complicate spin down, spin up, and docking.

    It is important that the station is despun for docking and undocking. All of our current ISS supply spacecraft are designed around docking with something that is not spinning.

    While a tether might be kept taut and stable with a station that is under constant spin, this station needs to periodically stop spinning. This would be a nightmare with a tether.
    Why not just put a section in the center with a counter-spin dock?

    ADDED: You'd need such a section anyway to keep your solar panels pointed at the Sun.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2015-Apr-11 at 12:37 AM.
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  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    Why not just put a section in the center with a counter-spin dock?

    ADDED: You'd need such a section anyway to keep your solar panels pointed at the Sun.
    A section in the center would be a complicated and nontrivial addition, and you'd still have to figure out a way to transfer stuff between the central dock and the end modules. And since the docked spacecraft isn't directly connected to an end module, it can't be used to provide the life support to the end module. These are engineering challenges which are certainly solvable, but it adds time and cost.

    There's no need for solar panels to counter-spin in order to point at the Sun. You simply mount the solar panels parallel to the plane of spin, and rotate the station with the spin axis pointed at the Sun. If there's a supply mission every few months, then there doesn't even need to be any adjustment of spin axis between supply missions.

  7. #37
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    The US sent 135 tanks into space that were 54ft long, 27ft in diameter, Weighed 58,500 lbs, and had an internal volume of over 72,000 cubic feet. Unfortunately, they deliberately maneuvered to send them down to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Image a space station we could have made with those.
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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentalAvenger View Post
    The US sent 135 tanks into space that were 54ft long, 27ft in diameter, Weighed 58,500 lbs, and had an internal volume of over 72,000 cubic feet. Unfortunately, they deliberately maneuvered to send them down to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Image a space station we could have made with those.
    One hears that from time to time, but I don't think it would have been viable. Those empty tanks had no wiring, no temperature control, no air purification or circulation, no power sources, and no way to dock with anything.

    Look at images of the ISS or of MIR. Both are/were full of wiring and equipment, have loud fans for air circulation, and are festooned on the outside with radiators, solar panels and a bunch of other types of equipment. Each segment took years to build. The effort to turn the shuttle's external fuel tanks into a working space station would probably have been much more difficult and expensive than the building it the way it actually was built.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentalAvenger View Post
    The US sent 135 tanks into space that were 54ft long, 27ft in diameter, Weighed 58,500 lbs, and had an internal volume of over 72,000 cubic feet. Unfortunately, they deliberately maneuvered to send them down to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Image a space station we could have made with those.
    I'm pretty bitter about that also, but it is done. The big problem with leaving them in orbit would have been the stupendous amount of orbital space junk generated by the externally applied insulation foam. Designing the tanks with internal foam or some sort of external coating to prevent the foam from generating space debris would have added extra mass and thus reduced the payload.

  10. #40
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    Nearly eight million pounds of usable hardware in LEO would have been a good start. All those tanks linked together end to end would have made a circle 2320 ft in diameter. Interconnecting sections could have been built on Earth and ferried into orbit. Of course that is ancient history, but we could learn from it. Hardware in orbit is sent to a fiery end all the time. That is where the internal zero-G working bay would be very useful, salvaging and refurbishing such hardware.
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  11. #41
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    Bitter, but it is done? wow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    A section in the center would be a complicated and nontrivial addition, and you'd still have to figure out a way to transfer stuff between the central dock and the end modules. And since the docked spacecraft isn't directly connected to an end module, it can't be used to provide the life support to the end module. These are engineering challenges which are certainly solvable, but it adds time and cost.

    There's no need for solar panels to counter-spin in order to point at the Sun. You simply mount the solar panels parallel to the plane of spin, and rotate the station with the spin axis pointed at the Sun. If there's a supply mission every few months, then there doesn't even need to be any adjustment of spin axis between supply missions.
    Cable ascenders and cable elevators are established technology, so transfers can be done. Tethers are also flexible, so an unplanned mass shift won't break the whole station.

    Just how long of a strut would you need, to simulate each gravitational regime? Non-trivial launching and construction problems.
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  13. #43
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    A new survey of the space industry conducted by the Space Frontier Foundation shows optimism on private industry construction a space station within the next 10 years.

    Until we see a few plans/proposals I am not so optimistic. I do see companies like Bigelow having plans and will have a module join the ISS sometime this year but beyond that it is still concepts. If Bigelow were to have plans with SpaceX to support such an endeavor, than that will be taken seriously. Sadly have not read anything like that in the press.

    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2015/07/...-future-space/

    Private space stations will be constructed within the next 10 years, and escalating tensions between China, Russia and the United States will not result in a new space race, according to a new survey of the space industry conducted by the Space Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to opening the space frontier to permanent human settlement through free enterprise.

    Over two-thirds of survey respondents said they expect construction on private space stations to either be well under way or completed within the next decade.

  14. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Until we see a few plans/proposals I am not so optimistic.
    Bigelow has had plans, pictures and even prices for a few years now.
    I just don't think they ever had a timeline because a lot of that is dependent on when the private crew transports start operating.

    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    If Bigelow were to have plans with SpaceX to support such an endeavor, than that will be taken seriously.
    They do. With Boeing too.

    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Sadly have not read anything like that in the press.
    Stuff like this can take years to evolve. So (like your link), you really don't hear anything of importance until something changes, or someone takes advantage of other related news to get their name in the headlines.

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post

    SLS supporters like to imagine that a magical budget fairy will conjure up the budget for a manned mission to the Moon and/or Mars to put atop the SLS...but that's wishful thinking.
    About that:

    "it’s possible to get humans to Mars orbit in 2033, and on the surface as soon as 2039, **within NASA’s current budget**, assuming increases for inflation."

    “'Not only did we see a reasonable example of a series of missions that would enable humans to get out to Mars, we saw the cost analysis,' said Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society. 'There’s no ‘Kennedy moment’ involved, there’s no extraordinary demand for doubling of the NASA budget.'”
    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2726/1

    More:
    The workshop, funded by The Planetary Society, is an indication that the organization best known for lobbying for robotic space exploration plans to take a bigger role in human spaceflight. “I’m excited to say that we’re re-engaging with the human spaceflight community,” Nye said.

    “I say this about The Planetary Society, you guys: we are not crazy. We are not pie-in-the-sky people,” said Nye.

    That includes, he said, supporting the SLS, a launch vehicle that remains controversial in some parts of the space community. “When I first took the job [of Planetary Society CEO], I was under a lot of pressure to criticize the Space Launch System,” he said. “But it’s in the works, and the people doing it seem to know what they’re doing, and it really would be a great thing.”

    Quote Originally Posted by crescent View Post
    One hears that from time to time, but I don't think it would have been viable. Those empty tanks had no wiring, no temperature control, no air purification or circulation, no power sources, and no way to dock with anything. The effort to turn the shuttle's external fuel tanks into a working space station would probably have been much more difficult and expensive than the building it the way it actually was built.
    Mark Holderman--of Nautilus X fame, disagrees. Skylab was to have been wet stage first.
    http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...-space-station

    Take a look at the Skylab 2 concept:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylab_II

    This would be in the Earth Moon L2 point.

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    I'm pretty bitter about that also, but it is done.
    But SLS itself is potentially stage-and-a-half, same as Atlas (remember the Atlas station concepts--Atlas SCORE, etc.) and the shuttle ET.

    I can see a very lightly loaded SLS core--perhaps with longer tankage--being placed in LEO. A second launch would stage the core normally, and dock a "smaller dry station next to the wet core.

    SLS might allow for something like this to be built at last
    http://www.astronautix.com/craft/stsation.htm

    BTW Mark Wade has updated his website with info on Pye Wacket--he will do more...
    Last edited by publiusr; 2015-Aug-01 at 07:53 PM.

  16. #46
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    Surprise, surprise NASA does have plans for a post ISS, only it is not in LEO!!!!!. This report on what NASA is considering doing in Cislunar space says it clearly.

    If you could have missions lasting a year in BEO in the mid 2020s, it is as good a having a permanent space station in BEO.

    http://spacenews.com/nasa-considers-...lunar-habitat/

    “NASA and its partners will also develop an initial habitation capability for short-duration missions in cislunar space during the early 2020s and evolve this capability for long-duration missions in the later 2020s,” the report states. “With this long-duration habitable volume and resources, NASA and its partners will have the opportunity to validate Mars habitat concepts and systems.”

    Those long-duration missions could last as long as one year. “We’re going to use this one-year shakedown cruise in cislunar space to prove that all of our systems and crew health equipment, and our crews interacting with all of that equipment, can remain healthy, productive and relatively happy,” said Sam Scimemi, director of the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters, during a Nov. 5 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s human exploration and operations committee here.

  17. #47
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    Bigelow Aerospace is still working on their Space Station. Their Olympus model, a 2250 cubic meter concept that includes crew quarters, vegetable growing facilities, storage, and instruments.

    As it would weigh 70 tons, it will need a Falcon Heavy to get it up there.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/spac...space-habitat/

    Bigelow Aerospace has been working on an inflatable space station for a few years, even planning a test model for use on the ISS. But in a recent tweet, they unveiled a neat cross-section view of the Olympus model, a 2250 cubic meter concept that includes crew quarters, vegetable growing facilities, storage, and instruments.

    The solar powered, LEO facility also has a docking module with a 25 foot wide port. The whole thing would be substantially larger than the space station, requiring a heavy lift rocket to get into orbit, weighing a total of 70 tons. Development of the Olympus, or BA 2100, has been ongoing for the last decade, and still isn't launch ready, though it might be by the time the ISS is retired in 2024. By then, the Falcon Heavy may be up to the challenge of lifting it to orbit.

  18. #48
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    It would make sense that any future module developed should be capable of a solar system missions. While the modules themselves would not have the propulsion required for such journeys, a separate vehicle would be required to move them. It seem pointless designing yet another space station specific only to an earth or lunar orbit.

    Designing yet another space station specific only to an earth or lunar orbit, only delays a mission to Mars or other planets or moons problem by at least a decade.

    NASA, ESA, Russia, China, India and all other countries of organisations should get together, work out what modules would be required for future missions, and agree specifications such as docking points, hatches, fuel gas and water hose connectors etc, so that each can continue their own research and development in the knowledge that any module developed would be interchangeable for future missions
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  19. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by efanton View Post
    It would make sense that any future module developed should be capable of a solar system missions. While the modules themselves would not have the propulsion required for such journeys, a separate vehicle would be required to move them. It seem pointless designing yet another space station specific only to an earth or lunar orbit.

    Designing yet another space station specific only to an earth or lunar orbit, only delays a mission to Mars or other planets or moons problem by at least a decade.

    NASA, ESA, Russia, China, India and all other countries of organisations should get together, work out what modules would be required for future missions, and agree specifications such as docking points, hatches, fuel gas and water hose connectors etc, so that each can continue their own research and development in the knowledge that any module developed would be interchangeable for future missions
    The stumbling block is that the US government has put a restriction on NASA to sit in the same room as China to discuss space projects. In fact with China docking, for example with the ISS is not problem. As pointed out in the thread "china working with other countries except the US" their docking system is the same as what the Russians are using for joining American and Russian modules of ISS.

    China is now in the last stages of having their own Space Station with a strong likely hood of Europe joining them. Especially if China also includes them in the moon base project. Russia because of financial constrains would also join the moon base project and maybe the Space Station. Japan have indicated they would like to join an international project for a moon base and they will contribute the robots to be used there. India I also see joining the group as by then it will be within their capability.

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    Some ideas from Bill Gerstenmaier, the head of human exploration and operations at NASA, on successful commercialization of low Earth orbit (LEO).

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/new...ovative-nimble

    NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier said on Wednesday (February 3) that the key to successful commercialization of low Earth orbit (LEO) is for the space industry to become more innovative and nimble.

    Commercial satellite systems like Iridium that were intended to provide voice and data services to underserved parts of the globe lost out to undersea fiber optic cables and terrestrial cell phone towers because the aerospace industry moved too slowly, he argued. “We have to be extremely nimble. … We as an industry were so slow in doing that we got whacked by a terrestrial market that could turn and deliver faster.”

    The same threat hangs over potential use of the near-zero gravity environment available in LEO for applications in areas such as pharmaceuticals. Electrophoresis was once envisioned as a promising area for space commercialization because without gravity much purer substances can be produced. However, back on Earth, genetic engineering advances made it possible to do almost as good a job. “We could create a 99% pure insulin on orbit, [but] they could create a 98% pure insulin through genetic engineering. That won because they could turn to the market faster and be responsive.”

    Gerstenmaier, the head of human exploration and operations at NASA, reiterated two points that he and other NASA officials have been stressing in recent months. First, it is the commercial sector’s responsibility, not NASA’s, to find the demand for future LEO space stations. Second, future LEO space stations are not likely to resemble the International Space Station (ISS), but be smaller facilities with narrower purposes and they could build on existing or planned spacecraft.

  21. #51
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    The Russians have their own ideas on what they want to do post ISS.

    http://www.chinatopix.com/articles/9...eplace-iss.htm

    Russia's announcement it plans a new space station called the Russian Orbital Station, or ROS, to replace the International Space Station (ISS) confirms the ISS won't make it to the 30th anniversary of its existence in 2028

    It also seems to confirm the United States will exit from the ISS consortium of countries to focus its limited funding on its deep space programs such as landing humans on Mars by 2035. The U.S.' "ISS-xit" comes despite Russia's insistence the ISS will operate until 2024 and that Roscosmos and NASA "do not rule out that the station's flight could be extended." NASA has never confirmed its support for Russia's statement, however.

    RKK Energia, the major Russian contractor for the ISS and now ROS, said plans call for ROS to initially include three modules with two more probably added in the future.

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    Instead of just wishing real hard for the magical budget fairy
    The coming of the magical budget fairy seems a bit like the end of the world - continually forecast, and yet it hasn't happened yet.

  23. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentalAvenger View Post
    Grant NASA the right to open casinos near major US cities. Funding problem solved.
    Funding problem not solved. Have a look at the size of all casino profits in the US. And one doesn't get the profits for nothing; a substantial initial investment is required.

    But maybe the US government will generate much higher profits by operating the casinos much more efficiently than everyone else.

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  25. #55
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    This weeks issue of "The Space Review" has this article "A stepping-stone to commercial space stations"

    They are looking at NASA attaching a a commercial module on the ISS itself as a stepping stone to the private sector developing one or more commercial space stations that could serve as platforms for research, tourism, or other applications. To that end NASA on July 21st issued a request for information (RFI) titled “Advancing Economic Development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) via Commercial Use of Limited Availability, Unique International Space Station Capabilities.” The agency is seeking input for industry on how to use “limited availability” resources on the station to support commercial ventures. The deadline for responses is July 29.

    The companies most likely to respond are Axiom Space and Bigelow Aerospace. Both have been working on their own on a commercial space station.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3033/1

    NASA appears to be starting to do just that. On July 1, the agency issued a request for information (RFI) titled “Advancing Economic Development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) via Commercial Use of Limited Availability, Unique International Space Station Capabilities.” The agency is seeking input for industry on how to use “limited availability” resources on the station to support commercial ventures.

    Among the specific capabilities included in the RFI is the aft port on the Node 3, or Tranquility, module on the station. That port is currently in use by the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the prototype of a future expandable module developed by Bigelow Aerospace under a NASA contract. The module, flown to the station on a cargo resupply in April, expanded to its full size in late May and is expected to remain there for two years.

    Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, told the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee during a July 13 NASA hearing that the agency would effectively provide one docking port—presumably the one currently occupied by BEAM and mentioned in the RFI—for a commercial module at some point in the future.

    “We essentially have one of the ports on the space station that we’re going to make available to the private sector to go utilize how they want,” he said. NASA would provide power and life support for that module in addition to the docking port itself, he added. The company using the port, though, would be responsible for contracting for commercial cargo and crew services to support the module.

    Gerstenmaier also suggested, as both Bigelow and Suffredini have previously said, that the module could serve as a core of a future commercial space station once the ISS reaches the end of its life. “And then at some point, when the station’s life is exceeded, they could undock from the station and be the basis for the next private sector station,” he said at the hearing.

  26. #56
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    The next paper talks about how the US is developing a commercial market in LEO and this will allow NASA to concentrate its efforts on the goal of sending American astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Bu...Orbit_999.html

    As NASA moves in to cislunar orbits, its commercial partners will need to take the lead in low-Earth orbit by building a space economy based not solely on government contracts, but on private sector supply and demand. NASA's commercial cargo program has reinvigorated the American launch industry by helping Orbital ATK and SpaceX develop the Cygnus and Dragon capsules to supply cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).

    NASA recently added a third US company, the Sierra Nevada Corporation, for ISS cargo resupply missions through 2024. Boeing and SpaceX are under contract to transport astronauts to the station within the next two years through NASA's Commercial Crew Program. For these vehicles to be economically successful in the long run, however, they will need to have private sector customers willing to pay to transport people and cargo to LEO.

    NASA has released the "Economic Development of Low Earth Orbit", a new collection of papers, written by prominent economists, that explores the question of how the private sector can take advantage of government investments in LEO.

    As the NASA collection's editors, Dr. Patrick Besha and Dr. Alexander MacDonald, explain, "after the government pioneers, develops, and demonstrates a space capability-from rockets to space-based communications to Earth observation satellites-the private sector realizes its market potential and continues innovating. As new companies establish a presence, the government often withdraws from the market or becomes one of many customers."

  27. #57
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    Axiom's ring station interests me.

    Now, remember what I said about stage-and-a-half designs in my post above--#44:
    Now look at the potential living space here:

    http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthre...cket-%96-Fligh

    That could be another Atlas Score/Geode station all by itself:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCORE_(satellite)
    http://www.fantastic-plastic.com/CON...MOL%20PAGE.htm

    Like Atlas--and unlike the External Tanks: http://aeromaster.tripod.com/grp.htm

    SLS will have an engine block--making it look a lot like the Bekuo core: http://nickd.freehostia.com/OrbiterVault/bekuo.html

    I can easily see this being refueled pushing an Axiom station into a cycler orbit--with the main tank then used as an additional wet stage station that might be deposited in Mars orbit if separated early enough. The ring station becomes the cycler itself.

  28. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    They are looking at NASA attaching a a commercial module on the ISS itself as a stepping stone to the private sector developing one or more commercial space stations that could serve as platforms for research, tourism, or other applications. To that end NASA on July 21st issued a request for information (RFI) titled “Advancing Economic Development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) via Commercial Use of Limited Availability, Unique International Space Station Capabilities.” The agency is seeking input for industry on how to use “limited availability” resources on the station to support commercial ventures. The deadline for responses is July 29.
    This weeks The Space Review has information that the deadline for a request for information about using a docking port on the station has been extended until August 12. It also contains information on last month’s ISS Research and Development Conference in San Diego which has a direct bearing on this subject.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3036/1

    At last month’s ISS Research and Development Conference in San Diego, some of those prospective customers talked about their interest in using the space station. Kris Kimel, president of Kentucky Space and chairman of a commercial spinoff, Space Tango, talked about that company’s efforts to support research on the ISS.

    “Space Tango enables R&D for bioengineering and biomanufacturing in the microgravity environment of space,” he said during a panel discussion at the conference. The company, which has flown several experiments to the station, was on the verge of launching its first permanent lab, TangoLab-1, to the ISS. That hardware was flown to the station on a SpaceX Dragon cargo mission that launched a few days after the conference.

    “We allow customers, through the design of this microlaboratory, the ability to do lots of different experiments, from materials to physics to biomedicine,” he said. TangoLab-1 can accommodate 21 different “CubeLabs” simultaneously, which can be switched out as needed.

    Space Tango, Kimel said, has a particular interest in biomedicine on the ISS—something he calls “exomedicine”—that he believes can have applications for terrestrial medicine. “Our focus primarily is not necessarily on the six people up there but on the seven billion people down here,” he said. “What we’re really looking at is using microgravity in creative ways to solve the really difficult problems on Earth.”

    “The big question that drives us is, what if the next medical breaktheough isn’t on the planet?” he said. “We fundamentally believe, from a lot of the work we’ve done and many other people in this field, that there are some huge breakthroughs to be learned from microgravity.”

  29. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    The Russians have their own ideas on what they want to do post ISS.
    And maybe not as they do have financial problems.

    http://www.russianspaceweb.com/vshos.html#2016

    Plans for the post-ISS Russian Orbital Station, ROS, are in limbo, as the nation's space program has faced budget cuts in 2016. Although the industry has now completed formulating the overall design of the future station, the cash-strapped Roskosmos was yet to approve the formal technical assignment for the development of ROS as of June 2016. The addendum to the Federal Contract, which would fund further development work on the project, has not been issued either.

    The ROS project stalled despite being formally approved by three strategy documents governing the current Russian space program: The 10-year Federal Space Program from 2016 to 2025, known as FKP-2025; The Strategy for Russian Piloted Space Flight until 2035 and the Concept of the Russian Piloted Space Flight.

    Despite current funding problems, the key Russian manned space flight contractor, RKK Energia, continues low-level work on the ROS concept, including two new modules, in addition to three earlier components already in active development.

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    The Americans are looking to hand over the operations of the ISS to a private company in the mid 2020s.

    http://www.spaceflightinsider.com/mi...ivate-company/

    The International Space Station (ISS) could soon fall into private hands, according to a statement made by a NASA official on Thursday, Aug. 18. The agency is mulling the possibility of handing-off control of the orbital laboratory to a commercial company by the mid-2020s.

    NASA revealed the possibility during a press conference focused on future manned missions to Mars.

    “NASA’s trying to develop economic development in low-Earth orbit,” said Bill Hill, NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development. “Ultimately, our desire is to hand the space station over to either a commercial entity or some other commercial capability so that research can continue in low-Earth orbit.”

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