International Space Station

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International Space Station

The International Space Station, a worldwide project, is the next goal in a quickly growing space frontier. The station will be the first and next step towards researching the vast unknown world of outer space. What will be learned by this station? NASA has only the highest hopes that with the newest advancements in technology up in space, the fundamental physical, chemical, and biological processes can be examined with the absence of gravity, because of the space station. The space station has been a long awaited project, as the first space station idea was drafted up in 1984. A resolution was made to place a permanent, livable space station in orbit. When President Ronald Reagan announced his 1984 State of the Union address, he included plans for a space station to be in orbit by the mid 1990’s. The idea of having an operable, livable, space station seemed to be inconceivable to everyone who heard that speech. As the ideas for this project began to take off, the main concern was money. How much funding would be necessary to construct a space station? At first, NASA could only work within the agency’s estimated $8.5 billion dollar budget. It was in 1984 when the first construction plan was unveiled, called “Freedom.” A “power tower” concept was designed, which is a long slender unit that would be the center of the entire structure. This tower would be a long, narrow piece of latticework, chosen for its stability and to avoid the use of every day thrusts to maintain its altitude. All the laboratory modules would then surround the “power tower.” A free-flyer module would be used to conduct experiments in incessant, stable conditions away form the main tower structure. The “power tower” concept required too many parts and shuttle missions for it to be completed. That would force the cost of the project to exceed NASA’s budget. The following year in 1985, a new, updated station concept was drafted. This was called the “dual keel” concept, and included two vertical towers joined and braced together with three horizontal beams. This structure would allow four pressurized operable and livable modules to be placed around the central meeting points of the beams. The solar panels (now called arrays), radiators, and the other necessary equipment would be added around the horizontal center beam. This idea well established the fact that the space station could be constructed and working towards the latter part of the century. Once again, money became the issue. This is because NASA was to be the main supplier of the International Space Station, building all the crew habitation modules, an emergency crew return vehicle, four out of the six sets of solar arrays, the main control module, the thermal control panels, and other small structures. NASA undertook most of the construction of the station due to the fact that the United States has superior technology, a better and more advanced space program than any other country. It was from the United States that the space station idea first arose from, so NASA took responsibility to get it under way. Then in 1986, tragedy struck the entire space program. After the disastrous explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, NASA faced constant rising costs, and was forced to re-evaluate the Freedom project. This led to a phase-plan for construction to take place totally in outer space. Everything would be built on earth, but placed together in space, hopefully cutting the skyrocketing costs. Phase 1 would be the horizontal and vertical structure beams, and the four main pressurized modules. Phase 2, which will not start until the first one is totally completed, would bring up everything else that was constructed for use on the station. The second phase seemed a little to drastic and once again; NASA had to make changes to its...
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