Monday, April 11, 2011

Report supports ISS extension to 2020

The nation hopes to operate the International Space Station until at least 2020, but will it last that long?

NASA assessments are ongoing, but federal government watchdogs say it appears the agency's is doing an adequate job analyzing the station's wear and tear and determining which spare parts are likely to be needed over the next decade.

Read the U.S. Government Accountability Office report here.

The NASA authorization act Congress approved last year extended the station's life from 2015 to 2020.

The final shuttle missions are just putting the finishing touches on the outpost and staging spares in orbit. The station's first Russian-built component was launched in 1998, and it now has a mass of nearly a million pounds.

Primary station structures like its trusses and habitable modules were certified to last 15 years. Assessments of the hardware and systems' ability to exceed that design life is in progress and will take until 2015.

NASA is using statistical modeling to determine which parts are likely to fail in the coming years and staging spares based on the analysis. The report says a limited review validated NASA's results, but said those results are sensitive to NASA assumptions about spares' reliability.

Some critical spares, like a radiator recently delivered by Discovery, are too big to be flown on anything but the shuttle. And without the shuttle, some failed components won't be able to be returned to Earth for analysis.

3 comments:

James said...

With advent of Falcon Heavy from SpaceX, no part of the station will be to large or too heavy to replace. Based on that, and on the low projected launch cost of the FH, the life of the ISS could be extended indefninitely. The station could also be significantly enlarged.

Mark Lopa said...

"Some critical spares, like a radiator recently delivered by Discovery, are too big to be flown on anything but the shuttle. And without the shuttle, some failed components won't be able to be returned to Earth for analysis."

That, in my mind, makes Bush and Obama equal idiots. This shuttler termination was not throught through, to say nothing about having a little forethought.

Mitch said...

Mitch said
Why don't we keep them ready to go in case the Russian's stop us from flying on their rocket's!