By Joel Achenbach
The decision is not a shocker, because the alternative would involve putting the ISS through a controlled de-orbit just six years from now. The $100 billion, nearly 1 million-pound laboratory — which took 13 years, more than 100 rocket and shuttle launches, and 160 spacewalks to construct — would crash into the vast open space of the South Pacific.
But the extension is a relief for NASA, which spends about $3 billion a year on the space station. It shores up the marketability of the ISS as a platform for scientific research and commercial operations, which can require many years of planning.
This is also good news for the private launch companies SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp., which have contracts to supply cargo to the station and could compete for future contracts. SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada are interested in launching crews to the station by 2017, and the extension makes the competition for a contract look like a better investment of time and energy.
More - Link >>> http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nasa-space-station-operation-extended-by-obama-until-2024-at-least/2014/01/08/9819d5c8-788e-11e3-8963-b4b654bcc9b2_story.html
Source: The Washington Post.
2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium
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