What's NASA's Plan for Future Space Stations?

What's NASA's Plan for Future Space Stations?

2021-11-24T21:12:11+00:00November 24th, 2021|Solar Energy|

The ISS has been in orbit in one form or another for 23 years now, how many more does the station have? Not many. The ISS is only possible because it’s supported by 5 space agencies and 15 nations. That global partnership is set to end in 2024. In this episode, we’ll dive into the future of the ISS and what the next decade of space travel looks like.

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There are a lot of planned updates coming to the station. A major one just happened in July of 2021 when the new Russian module Nauka was added to the station. Nauka means “science” in Russian so of course it includes a lab, as well as a living area and a toilet. It’s the largest addition to the Russian side of the station since Zvezda was attached to the budding ISS over two decades ago.

It might seem like strange timing to add such a large piece now, but Nauka was originally scheduled for launch back in 2007. It had some gremlins that kept causing technical issues and delayed its launch, and it looks like there are still some in there. The new module docked with the ISS without any issues, but after Nauka was secured to the ISS the module’s automated docking system seemed to think otherwise. Twice Nauka has fired up its engines and spun the ISS around. NASA says it’s nothing dangerous but we’re sure it’s not fun for the crew when their house makes an unscheduled flip.

Aside from a fussy overdue module the ISS has some cutting edge improvements on the docket. In 2022 the station will be adding new solar arrays. They’ll be much more compact than the current massive and iconic arrays, but because they’re much more efficient they’ll make a lot more power for the station. So much so that the plan is to place them in front of the existing panels. That’ll reduce the power the old solars make but the new panels will more than make up for it. It’s also much easier to attach them to something that already tracks the sun.

Finally the station is scheduled to add another module, but this time not from Russia or NASA or any of the other space agencies for that matter. This new piece is currently being built by Axiom Space, a private company based in Texas. Axiom Space plans to offer their section as a microgravity lab other companies can rent or an extremely high end hotel room. Axiom has big plans for their own section, stating they intend to double the usable volume of the ISS before eventually separating and operating on their own.

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Read More:
Tour Russia’s new Nauka space station module with these astronaut home movies
“After docking itself with the orbiting lab, Nauka’s thrusters fired unexpectedly, spinning the space station around one and a half times.” https://www.space.com/nauka-space-station-module-tour-astronaut-home-movies

What does the future have in store for the International Space Station?
“Much like a sail, the iROSA arrays will be unfolded on top of the old solar panels and partly cover them. While small enough to be carried in the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, they will provide a 34% upgrade in energy generation by working in tandem with the original system.” https://www.aerotime.aero/27884-what-future-for-the-international-space-station

NASA and Japan finalize Gateway agreement
“NASA and the Japanese government have completed an agreement outlining Japan’s contributions to the lunar Gateway as NASA works to wrap up international contributions to the outpost. NASA announced Jan. 12 it signed an agreement with the Japanese government governing Japan’s contributions to the Gateway. They include components for the European-led International Habitation, or I-Hab, module, such as its environmental control and life support system, batteries, thermal control and cameras.”

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