International Space Station

The International Space Station is the doorway to the future of mankind and the
world as it is known. The scientific and medical discoveries that will be made
on the station could create billions of dollars annually. A plan like this,
arranged to benefit the whole world economy, should sound like a good idea to
every person, but some believe that the ISS is too risky, too ineffective, or
too costly to create. Whether or not the space station is worth the money, time,
and effort, one thing is clear, everyone is interested in this virtual floating
laboratory and what assets or liabilities it will bring. The future of
scientific experimentation and exploration may be located, not on earth, but on
the man made island called the International Space Station. Of all the factors
that go into building a space station, construction of the massive object is the
most tedious objective. During the building of the ISS, tensions have run high
several times when deadlines were missed or funds were not available. This space
station is the most expansive mission the world has ever encountered. The
International Space Station will be a fifteen country mission. When finished, it
will boast over an acre of solar panels for heating and energy, have a volume
roughly sizable to two jumbo jets, and contain four times the electrical power
of the Russian space station, Mir. It will take approximately forty-five flights
over the next five years to assemble the one hundred pieces of the station while
circling the orbit of the earth (Goldin 11). This floating station, the size of
a large football stadium, which is traveling at over 17,500 miles per hour
around the earth, will have a minimum life expectancy of only ten years,
although scientists hope for a much longer time. The station is so large that it
will sometimes be visible by the naked eye during the night (Chang 12). Many
people agree with the idea of some sort of space laboratory, but wonder why it
has to cost so many tax dollars. Some estimates for the station confirm that the
cost has been underestimated by billions of dollars. Late last year Boeing beat
out several other competitors for the prestigious position of main contractor.

NASA agreed to sign a 5.6 billion dollar contract with Boeing to build many of
the essential parts of the space station. Russia is also placing trust in this
airplane superpower. They signed a 180 million dollar contract to build the
Functional Cargo Block, the unit that will provide power to stabilize the
station (Bizony 87). The International Space Station may provide many scientific
discoveries, but everyone will pay for it. This project will become the most
expensive project in space since the 1969 mission of Apollo 13 to the moon. The
total estimated cost will be over twenty billion dollars (8). On the
International Space Station, there will be a large variety of experiments
ranging from improvements of industry to medical advances. The largest portion
of time will be devoted to scientific experimentation and discovery. The ISS
will create advances that will assist scientists to better understand the
mysteries of the physical, chemical, and biological world. Without gravity they
may conceive the technological discoveries that will boost all economies (Goldin
11). One thing the astronauts will use in their pursuit of knowledge is remote
telescience. It is an advanced technology that allows scientists on the ground
to monitor the progress of the experiments on the station. This will keep people
on Earth up to date on the data collection that is occurring in space.

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Telescience will use interactive data and video links to make the connection as
realistic as possible (Science Facilities 7). The populous sometimes asks
what the station will do scientifically. The International Space Station will
try to answer questions that have bothered deep thinkers for years. The affect
of no gravity on living things, any mental and physical affect on humans in
space, and the growth of better materials in space that will create better
products on Earth will all be explored in hopes of becoming better understood.

Hopefully, scientists will be able to answer these questions and many more on
the International Space Station (Chang 12). NASA has confirmed that microgravity,
the almost weightless condition of space, is one of the largest factors in the
experiments that will occur aboard the International Space Station. The affects
of gravity and microgravity on animals, plants, cells, and microorganisms will
be studied on the station. Artificial gravity can be


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