Isn’t it a wonder how these spacecrafts weighing million pounds are hanging around the earth like one magnetic ball with invisible arms holding them. One such man made wonder is a football-field size International Space Station(ISS).
This science laboratory is a home, as NASA calls it, to astronauts and cosmonauts. Also it is a tool to space diplomacy for power hungry nations.
Construction of ISS was completed a decade ago by a number of countries. And so no one single country owns it. On account of ageing factors and safety issues partners have agreed to use it until 2024. Russia’s decision to pull out of ISS is not merely because of war sanctions by US. Ukraine war has only quickened the process.
US and Russian sides of ISS are technically interdependent. Russian spacecraft ‘Soyuz’ is responsible for carrying astronauts and cosmonauts to the station while US playing major role in power supply division. Even after withdrawing will Russia continue its support at least for safety related modules until ISS is completely out of orbit (i.e. until 2030) ?
Meanwhile there are private space agencies planning their own commercial space stations (like Starlab by Nanoracks). SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and Axiom module is said to be making its way to replace Russian Soyuz to ISS. If answer to previous question becomes ‘No’ will these private agencies make it up for it?
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Never ending race
Not being the first one, ISS is supposed to join the row of decommissioned space stations soon. It is a staunch example of global cooperation in science which is now making rooms for private players too. With China’s Tiangong (to be operational by 2022) countries like India and number of private agencies have already joined the race for own space platforms. Wish the magnetic ball has more arms to hold all the debris humans dump out there.
“People have problems on Earth. On orbit, we are one crew.” –Astronauts and Cosmonauts from ISS.
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