The International Space Station is the doorway to the future of mankind and theworld as it is known. The scientific and medical discoveries that will be madeon 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 toevery person, but some believe that the ISS is too risky, too ineffective, ortoo 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 floatinglaboratory and what assets or liabilities it will bring.
The future ofscientific experimentation and exploration may be located, not on earth, but onthe man made island called the International Space Station. Of all the factorsthat go into building a space station, construction of the massive object is themost tedious objective. During the building of the ISS, tensions have run highseveral times when deadlines were missed or funds were not available. This spacestation is the most expansive mission the world has ever encountered. TheInternational Space Station will be a fifteen country mission. When finished, itwill boast over an acre of solar panels for heating and energy, have a volumeroughly sizable to two jumbo jets, and contain four times the electrical powerof the Russian space station, Mir. It will take approximately forty-five flightsover the next five years to assemble the one hundred pieces of the station whilecircling the orbit of the earth (Goldin 11). This floating station, the size ofa large football stadium, which is traveling at over 17,500 miles per houraround 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 itwill sometimes be visible by the naked eye during the night (Chang 12). Manypeople agree with the idea of some sort of space laboratory, but wonder why ithas to cost so many tax dollars. Some estimates for the station confirm that thecost has been underestimated by billions of dollars. Late last year Boeing beatout 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 ofthe essential parts of the space station. Russia is also placing trust in thisairplane superpower. They signed a 180 million dollar contract to build theFunctional Cargo Block, the unit that will provide power to stabilize thestation (Bizony 87). The International Space Station may provide many scientificdiscoveries, but everyone will pay for it. This project will become the mostexpensive project in space since the 1969 mission of Apollo 13 to the moon.
Thetotal estimated cost will be over twenty billion dollars (8). On theInternational Space Station, there will be a large variety of experimentsranging from improvements of industry to medical advances. The largest portionof time will be devoted to scientific experimentation and discovery. The ISSwill create advances that will assist scientists to better understand themysteries of the physical, chemical, and biological world. Without gravity theymay conceive the technological discoveries that will boost all economies (Goldin11). One thing the astronauts will use in their pursuit of knowledge is remotetelescience. It is an advanced technology that allows scientists on the groundto monitor the progress of the experiments on the station.
This will keep peopleon Earth up to date on the data collection that is occurring in space.Telescience will use interactive data and video links to make the connection asrealistic as possible (Science Facilities 7). The populous sometimes askswhat the station will do scientifically. The International Space Station willtry to answer questions that have bothered deep thinkers for years. The affectof no gravity on living things, any mental and physical affect on humans inspace, and the growth of better materials in space that will create betterproducts on Earth will all be explored in hopes of becoming better understood.
Hopefully, scientists will be able to answer these questions and many more onthe International Space Station (Chang 12). NASA has confirmed that microgravity,the almost weightless condition of space, is one of the largest factors in theexperiments that will occur aboard the International Space Station. The affectsof gravity and microgravity on animals, plants, cells, and microorganisms willbe studied on the station. Artificial gravity can be