A recently published plan for how NASA will handle it International Space Station not to mention the preservation of historically significant components from the orbital assembly. But it’s not just a omission in a report: the space agency says it has There are currently no plans to return potential artifacts to Earth.
The International Space Station (ISS) Transition Report, which NASA published on its website in January, outlined the budget and logistics needed to safely de-orbit the soccer-field-wide space station by subjecting it to a controlled but destructive re-entry into the atmosphere. of the Earth over an uninhabited area of the South Pacific Ocean. Any remaining parts will falling in and around “Point Nemo,” an area traditionally used for spacecraft handling as it is the furthest from any land.
Report, assume End of 2030 for the space station, which also explains what NASA wants to do with the complex in the years it has left. Goals include using the complex to conduct scientific research, expand the burgeoning commercial space industry and enable international cooperation. One of NASA’s other goals, “Inspire Humanity,” calls for engaging the public “through different platforms to communicate values.” [the] The ISS brings to the nation and the world. “
However, that end goal seems to end when the space station ends. The document says nothing about saving ISS parts as museum artifacts that could continue to inspire the public for decades to come, well beyond the lifespan of the station itself.
Holiness is not a priority
“There was no discussion within the International Space Station Program about returning items for display only,” NASA said in a statement, responding to an investigation by collectSPACE.com. “No reduced mass has been set aside at this time on upcoming cargo flights as we remain focused on making the most of the International Space Station.”
“Any decision to return artifacts from [the] The space station will occur at a later date based on any available cargo space as we will prioritize a return to science,” the statement concluded.
NASA’s response suggests historic preservation is not one of their priorities, although their transition report lists science and inspiration as equally important goals. It also means that any decisions made in the future to save items will be opportunistic, coming only after other program needs have been met. This is not necessarily the case.
In preparing the transition plan, NASA budgeted the necessary funds for several cargo vehicles to make the space station’s safe return to orbit. However, it does not give the same consideration to the use of other means of supply to return parts of historical significance or to represent the Earth.
The lack of advance planning and resource allocation when it comes to define “heritage property” on the space station reflects a problem that NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) warned about in 2018 NASA Historical Asset Audit. In that report, the OIG found that a NASA representative “was unable to explain who is responsible for designating an item as heritage property or how or why an item is designated as heritage property.” .”
CollectSPACE made multiple requests from NASA to speak with the official responsible for reviewing the preservation of the space station’s parts. No such individual has been identified.
“NASA’s lack of an adequate process to identify its heritage properties could jeopardize the preservation of the irreplaceable historic property.” OIG warns in its report.
It all goes down here
In its forward report, NASA addressed some of the questions it received about the plan, including why disassembling and returning to Earth the complete modules and components. large including the International Space Station is not feasible.
Space agency wrote in a Updates are posted to its website. “Any disassembly effort to safely return the individual components would face significant financial and logistical challenges, requiring considerable work on the part of the astronauts.” and ground support personnel as well as a spacecraft with capabilities similar to the large cargo hold of the space shuttle.”
The shuttle fleet was decommissioned in 2011. Today, the only vehicle capable of significant mass reduction is SpaceX. Dragoncould bring up to 6,614 pounds (3,000 kg) back to Earth.
NASA’s update also addresses device reuse, saying that although it will assess what internal components may be of interest to privately run space station undertakes the ISS, there are no current proposals from commercial providers claiming to do so.
“Much of the structural hardware on board was designed and built in the late 1990s and 2000s, while new commercial destinations will benefit from more recent technological advances,” NASA said in a statement.
The transition report defines the annual budget of the ISS orbital decommissioning, “including the costs associated with the three [Russian expendable] Develop the means needed to support that effort “reached around $1.5 billion in its peak year, which is now projected to be 2028. The report makes no mention of block-specific costs quantity on Earth SpaceX Dragon capsule or other returning spaceship, but a price chart for commercial use of the space station (when it was still in orbit) set a passive cargo landing fee of $40,000 per 2.2 pounds (1 kg).
If NASA then decides to bring the space station’s parts back for display in a museum, a permanent agreement would give the Smithsonian Institution the right of first refusal. The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC has a gallery devoted to “Extra-Earth Travel,” including the space station, but the number of artifacts it has from the program is limited.
“The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has a history of working closely with NASA because of past operational programs,” said Margaret Weitekamp, chair of the Space History Department. Select objects and artifacts to preserve what is important to history. department at the National Air and Space Museum. “Right now, it may be too early to speculate about the decisions that will become clearer in nine years when they happen immediately. The International Space Station continues to be dynamic and vibrant, with so much to offer. Good science hasn’t been born yet.”
https://www.space.com/international-space-station-transition-artifact-plan NASA: There are no current plans to return space station parts to the museum