Right now, there is a very real quandary n the cosmos. Last July, NASA retired the last of its space shuttles. Last week, a Russian Soyuz rocket bound for theInternational Space Station failed to reach orbit and crashed back to Earth. Problem: if the U.S. cannot fly into space at all and if there is safety concern over the Russian craft, how is anything and/or anyone going to get into space?
One possible answer: humans may be Earth-bound.
As reported by Space.com, there is said to be some serious consideration on the part of both the U.S. and Russia about abandoning the ISS unless a solution is found to the problem that caused the Russian rocket failure. Right now, the IS is staffed by a crew of 6, 3 members of which are set to return to Earth this September and the other 3 this November.
Normally, there is a regular rotation of space station crew members so that the level of station staffing is always kept constant. Unfortunately, with no shuttle and a potentially flawed Russian rocket, going into space just got a lot more difficult unless the Russians get their still undetermined problems fixed. After all, it it worth sending 3 astronauts/cosmonauts into space aboard a dangerous vehicle?
The end result: maybe no one will be going to the ISS come November.
When it comes to vital statistics, the ISS is truly massive, by far the largest object ever put into orbit. For starters, the ISS weighs nearly 1 million pounds. From front to back, the ISS is nearly 170 feet long and, in terms of width, it’s just a hair over 350 feet from side to side. For comparison, that’s as wide as a football field, end zones included. Height? Well, the ISS is 65 feet tall, or as tall as a 6 story building. Oh, yes, the ISS has cost, to date, over $100 billion, too. And all of this, about 2 football fields in area, may soon be hurtling around the earth at 17,500 mph with no human crew to man it.
Fortunately, NASA has full confidence that they can operate the ISS from Earth without any humans on board, so long as all of the systems keep working. In the end, only time will tell what happens. Hopefully, the Russians will get their problems fixed so that the ISS can continue operating with a crew.
As a final thought, there is one last, out of nowhere, scenario possible. Right now, commercial spaceflight is starting to really gain its traction. In the face of government inability to continue sending flights to the ISS, it could be very interesting to see if the private sector can propel itself into this formerly space agency-only role.
Hit the ‘subscribe’ button for automatic email updates when I write something new!
Want to read more of my stuff? Check out my other Examiner columns!
Cleveland Astronomy Examiner
Cleveland Photography Examiner
Want even more? Check out my personal website:
Bodzash Photography and Astronomy
For more Space News
Did God create the universe?
‘Curiosity’ reviews roll in after last night’s premiere
DNA, possibly extraterrestrial, found on meteorite
The Sun explodes
Perseids continue after peak
Has ‘Curiosity’ jumped the shark?
Proof of a multiverse discovered?
ESA to blast incoming asteroid
Possible meteor fall in Ohio
PETA: Mars should be a vegan-only planet
Could aliens destroy Earth to end global warming?