24 September 2006

International Space Station is Obsolete

The electrons from the new solar panels on the ISS have barely begun to flow, yet it is clear that the ISS has been obsolete for a decade. No amount of add-ons or work-arounds will compensate for the dismal mismanagement of the ISS program during the 1990s. Fortunately, private enterprise is coming to the rescue--none too soon.

Robert Bigelow, a Las Vegas billionaire entrepreneur, is readying a space station habitat for launch in 2009 or early 2010, which will be far more advanced than the ISS can ever be.

...Bigelow said his third module, dubbed Sundancer, would have a mass of 8,618.4 kilograms and be equipped with life support systems, attitude control, three windows, on-orbit maneuverability, reboost and de-orbit capability.

He plans to place it at an altitude of 250 nautical miles at an orbital inclination of 40 degrees. Bigelow said that while Sundancer will be a scale model of the large, human-rated habitat he eventually plans to launch into orbit, it will nonetheless have 180 cubic meters of habitable space.

"We're pretty damn serious," Bigelow said in his lunch address.

Initially Sundancer will require a six-to-nine month period to check out all of its onboard systems. After that, Bigleow said, Sundancer would be able to stay in orbit for several years...
Source.

Also see Michael Anissimov's more thorough discussion of the current state of affairs in the quest for human habitats in space.

If Al Gore invented the internet and was the model for "Love Story", it would not be an exaggeration to say that Al Gore destroyed the International Space Station, as well as the next generation space shuttle, through his political manipulation while serving as US Vice President. Not some of his proudest achievements, since he rarely refers to his role in those debacles.
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