London Daily

Focus on the big picture.
Sunday, Jun 04, 2023

What will replace the International Space Station?

What will replace the International Space Station?

The International Space Station has been ever-present in our lives for more than two decades. What will happen when we lose it in 2031?

The space station is dead. Long live the space station. In eight years, the International Space Station (ISS) – a bastion of global collaboration and human ability – will end. But that dramatic finale doesn't need to be a sombre occasion. Instead, it could herald an exciting future of human spaceflight that will hopefully already be underway.

The ISS project began in 1998 with the launch of Russia's Zarya module, the first component of the station. It has seen dozens of countries work together to build the largest human-built construction in space. Most notably, it heralded a partnership between two embittered foes – the US and Russia – following the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.

"It was absolutely huge," says Wendy Cobb, a space policy expert from the US Air Force's School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. "It's really this great story of post-Cold War cooperation. Russia's space industry was in dire straits. This was an opportunity for the United States and Russia to open up this new era of working together."

The result has been a giant space station that would encompass a football field and weighs more than 400 tonnes, orbiting our planet at 18,000mph (28,980km/h), at a cost of at least $150bn (£120bn). It has been continuously occupied since its first crew arrived in November 2000. However, the station's hardware is ageing, so in 2031 it will be de-orbited, brought back through Earth's atmosphere and crashed into the ocean.

Construction of the ISS began in 1998, with the Russian-built Zarya module being the first component


Thousands of scientific experiments have been conducted on the ISS, across both the US and Russian side of the station, and in European and Japanese-built modules that were also attached. Research has included investigating diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, studying new states of matter, and developing ways to grow food in space such as lettuce and radishes.

Living and working on the station "was a fantastic experience," says Frank de Winne, an astronaut with the European Space Agency who visited the station twice, in 2002 and 2009. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to work in an international partnership and move humanity forwards."

Not everyone agrees the station has been such a success. Lord Martin Rees, the UK's Astronomer Royal, says the price has been too high for the scientific return alone. "It's certainly not been worthwhile just for pure science," he says. He suggests nations should focus more on robotic missions, such as the wildly successful James Webb Space Telescope or ongoing missions to Mars. "Sending people to space is hugely expensive," he says. "I think the future of human spaceflight is for billionaires and adventurers."

We could not have skipped the space station – Frank de Winne


However, rather than research, some argue the station's main accomplishment was solidifying humanity as a space-faring species. Prior to its launch we had dipped our toes into long-duration spaceflight, with Russian cosmonauts spending upwards of a year on their Mir space station, but the ISS has been on another level, says Laura Forczyk, a space analyst at the US consulting firm Astralytical. "It changed our minds about what it means to be a space-faring civilisation," she says.

"We could not have skipped the space station," agrees de Winne. "There is so much that we have learned. It will be a sad day [when it is deorbited]."

Regardless, the end of the ISS will bring to an end an impressive display of human collaboration, one that has outlasted wars and conflicts on our planet. Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine has given the project its sternest test yet. While the collaboration has stood for the time being, such a partnership seems unlikely again in the near future. "The Russians are not going to be participating any longer," says Cathy Lewis, a space historian from the National Air and Space Museum in the US. "They've spoken about going their own way, and they will not be accepted given their invasion of Ukraine."

What will succeed the ISS is, however, already underway.

The money that Nasa saves from not having to pay for the ISS each year can go into other projects such as the Artemis programme


In Earth orbit, the hope is that new commercial space stations will take the place of the ISS. Nasa has already outsourced the transportation of humans to low Earth orbit to companies SpaceX and Boeing in the US. It has also begun awarding contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to companies to develop new space stations. These could become small research laboratories or destinations for space tourists, maintaining humanity's presence in orbit around our planet.

One of those companies, Axiom Space, has already been transporting paying astronauts on SpaceX rockets into orbit. In 2025, the company hopes to begin attaching modules to the ISS, which could eventually be detached to form its own station that could be rented out to paying customers. Not everyone is convinced by the idea. "I am really sceptical of the business cases there," says Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard and Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in the US. "I'm just not convinced that you can run a profitable space station."

Nonetheless, Nasa and other ISS partners are eager to explore these opportunities. "We are very much in discussion with all these players," says Josef Aschbacher, the head of the European Space Agency (Esa). "We are very keen on finding a way to continue after the end of the ISS."

For Nasa, freeing up the $3bn (£2.4bn) spent on the ISS each year will allow the agency to pursue other human spaceflight goals, namely sending astronauts back to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars. The agency is now carrying out its Artemis program to return to the lunar surface. In 2024, four astronauts will fly around the Moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972, with a return to the surface planned in 2025. "The station is expensive," says John Klein, a space policy expert at George Washington University in the US. "They're trying to move off with the Artemis programme."

Nasa also wants to build a new space station near the moon, known as the Lunar Gateway, with the help of international partners. Construction could begin later this decade. While it won't match the size of scale of the ISS, it could become a key part of future human spaceflight to the Moon and beyond, acting as an outpost for astronauts travelling to and from the Moon.

The ISS is the most expensive object humanity has ever produced – and few want to crash the entire thing into the ocean


Finally, there is the possibility that the ISS will not be completely destroyed. Some companies worry that deorbiting the entire station would be a waste, and that some of its modules and resources could be repurposed or reused in space. Nasa has not yet said it is open to such ideas, but it could change its mind as the deadline to deorbit the ISS approaches.

"Nobody who's involved in space that I've encountered really wants to just drop it in the ocean," says Gary Calnan, the CEO of CisLunar Industries in the US. In late 2022, CisLunar and several other companies presented a proposal to the White House to reuse aspects of the station, such as melting down some of its metal or repurposing some of its modules. Calnan says the White House was receptive. "They liked the idea," he says. "It fits with the politics of the current administration to reuse and have a circular economy."

One way or another, the ISS project will come to an end in 2031, whether that's in a fiery inferno or dismantling the station for other uses. In its place might be other smaller space stations ready and waiting to continue humanity's presence in Earth orbit, with astronauts further afield setting boots on the Moon. The ISS will leave behind an impressive legacy, but perhaps in the annals of history it will be just the beginning.

"It leaves behind this notion that despite our obsession with nationalism and borders, we are capable of cooperating," says Lewis. "We can do this. We can share in the riches."

AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.
Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
Close
0:00
0:00
The driver has been described by authorities as a 21-year-old woman from Tallahassee
You Are So Beautiful
Joe Biden falls at the Air Force Graduation
Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
America's Got Talent…
An old French tune (by Georges Brassens) Pomplamoose ft. John Schroeder
Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Sattahip Motor Show 20
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
SONATE AU CLAIR DE LUNE - Moonlight sonata
Elon Musk Meets Chinese Finance Minister in Beijing
A kiss to build a dream on
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Hold Power Talks with President Biden in Washington
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Mean Blues
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
La Chansonnette
Climate cultists thought they had sabotaged another beautiful event — then the cameraman had his revenge.
Pattaya Addicts
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Dream a little dream of me
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
Unchained Melody sung like you've NEVER heard!
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
Dave Brubeck - Take Five
Actor Tom Hanks told Harvard University graduates to be superheroes in their defense of truth and American ideals, and to resist those who twist the truth for their own gain
Édith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Sofie)
The Sussexes' Royal Rebound: Could Harry and Meghan Markle Return to the UK?
Rondo Alla Turca
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
Kiss of fire
France Arrests 10 on Suspicion of Failing to Respond in Time to Migrant Drowning
Tom Jones - I´ll Never Fall In Love Again 1967, 1989, 2001
Neuralink Receives FDA Approval for First-in-Human Clinical Study
Israel Cachao López - Guajira Clásica
Ukrainian Intelligence Official Admits to Assassination Attempts on Putin
Edward Maya - Stereo Love (feat. Vika Jigulina) (Extended Mix)
WATCH THIS: democracy in Russia is so bad!
Strauss - Radetzky March - Karajan
Ed Davey: It is possible for a woman to have a penis
La vie en rose
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
The Temptations - My Girl (Smokey Robinson Tribute) 2006 Kennedy Cent
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
Orlando Cachaito Lopez Redencion
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Edith Piaf - NON, JE NE REGRETTE RIEN
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
RADETZKY MARCH-2008-Wien, New Year Concert
Steve Jobs introducing Apple's iPhone, exactly 16 years ago.
Only you (And you alone)
Banking Behemoth vs Ex-Boss: The PMorgan-Epstein Entanglement
Strangers In The Night
China overtakes Japan as world's top car exporter
Charles Aznavour - La Boheme
Banking Behemoth vs Ex-Boss: The PMorgan-Epstein Entanglement
Summer time
Elon Musk's SpaceX and Italy's Unipol join forces to help Italians hit by flooding
Sting and Stevie Wonder - Fragile (from Sting's 60th birthday concert)
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Aux Champs Elysees
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
New evidence in special counsel probe may undercut Trump’s claim documents he took were automatically declassified
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) – Avalon Jazz Band
A French court of appeals confirmed former President Nicolas Sarkozy's three-year jail term for corruption and influence peddling
She
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Nathalie Song by Enzo Petrachi Stjepan Hauser Cello
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Shape of My Heart - Sting (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Radiohead - Creep
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Quizás,Quizás,Quizás - Andrea Bocelli - Jennifer Lopez
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps - Multi-Couples
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
Pentatonix Havana
Vienna: Passenger Plays Hitler Speeches on Train, Causes Panic
Paula Cole - Autumn Leaves
Remarkable video from our Fox drone team
Oscar Benton Bensonhurst Blues
The official tapes of Trump's deposition in the E. Jean Carroll battery (rape) and defamation case have been released.
OH NANANA vs ABUSADAMENTE
Here is the full video that the media are purposely not sharing
Nina Simone - ”I Put A Spell On You”. Vezi aici cum cântă Jeremy Ragsd
King Charles III being crowned.
NIGHTWISH - The Phantom Of The Opera
Newly released video of Donald Trump’s rape trial deposition:
Motorshow 2016 Tanjay Negros Oriental
Video: Ukraine MP Punches Russian Representative At Global Meet
Monica Bellucci - Ti Amo
Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the Kremlin with drones in an attempt to kill Putin
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Milena The Voice France 2018
Ahead of King Charles’ coronation, British guards rehearse in the middle of the night in London
Michael Buble (Help Me Make It Through The Night) feat Loren Allred
Memories Canon In D - Maroon 5 (Boyce Avenue piano acoustic cover)
Matteo Simoni - Marina
Maroon 5 - One More Night
Maroon 5 - Memories
Mark Knopfler - Brothers In Arms (Berlin 2007 Live)
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - Romeo And Juliet (Real Live Roadrunni
Marina, Marina - The LUCKY DUCKIES intimist live concert at Guimarães
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On Mauranne The Voice France 2016
Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet - Joslin - Henri Mancini, Nino Rota
LoLa & Hauser - Love Story
Linkin Park Jay-Z - Numb Encore (Live 8 2005)
Hallelujah Mennel Ibtissem, The Voice France Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen - Dance Me to the End of Love
Leonard Cohen & Natasha Rostova - Dance me to the end of love
La casa de papel - Bella Ciao
La Camisa Negra
L'italiano (Toto Cutugno) - The Gypsy Queens
Juanes - La Camisa Negra
Jonathan and Charlotte - Britain's Got Talent 2012 Live Semi Final - U
John Powell - Assassin's Tango
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On (LIVE in Dortmund)
Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart 2002 Live
Joe Cocker - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Jay Z & Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind LIVE
Jason Mraz - Im Yours (live)
Jarrod Radnich - Bohemian Rhapsody - Virtuosic Piano Solo
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
James Blunt - You're Beautiful & Bonfire Heart (Live at The Nobel Peac)
If You Go Away - Helen Merrill & Stan Getz (Tribute to Virna Lisi)
I'LL BE MISSING YOU
I Say a Little Prayer
Hotel California ( Eagles ) 1994 Live
Historia de un amor - Luz Casal. Vezi interpretarea Biancăi Sumanariu
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover) on Spot
Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors
HAVANA by Camila Cabello Zumba Pre Cooldown TML Crew Kramer Pastra
HAUSER and Señorita - I Will Always Love You
HAUSER - Waka Waka
HAUSER - Sway
HAUSER - Lambada
HAUSER - Historia de un Amor
HAUSER - Despacito
Great Pretender
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice Samba to 'Volare' - Strictly Come
Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
GIPSY KINGS VOLARE Penelope Cruz
Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song
French Latino - Historia de un Amor
For A Few Dollars More The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live)
Flashdance • What a Feeling • Irene Cara
Filip Rudan - “Someone You Loved” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sez
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Enya - Only Time
Enrique Iglesias - Bailando (English Version) ft. Sean Paul
Enrique Iglesias - Bailamos
Elena Yerevan Historia de un amor
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video)
Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony [with Andrea Bocelli]
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Official Music Video)
Easy On Me - Adele (Boyce Avenue 90’s style piano acoustic cover) on S
ERA - Ameno
ELENA YEREVAN- Cancion Del Mariachi-IN STUDIO-2017 DPR
Dust In The Wind - Kansas (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Despacito x Shape Of You - Pentatonix
Deep Purple - Child In Time - Live (1970)
David Foster When A Man Loves A WomanIt's A Mans World (SealMichael Bo
Dance me to the end of Love ( Pi-Air Design )
Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]
Conquest Of Paradise (Vangelis), played on Böhm Emporio organ
Cielito Lindo
Chico & The Gypsies - Bamboleo
Canción Del Mariachi - Antonio Banderas, Los Lobos • Desperado
Camila Cabello - Havana (Audio) ft. Young Thug
Camila Cabello - Havana ( cover by J.Fla )
California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas José Feliciano (Boyce Ave
Buster Benton - Money Is The Name of The Game
Hallelujah Pentatonix
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy (Official Music Video)
Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door Emilia The Voice Kids France
Besame Mucho - Cesaria Evora
Ben E. King - Stand by Me Sax Cover Alexandra Ilieva Thomann
Bella Ciao
Bella Ciao - INSTRUMENTAL
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Bad Romance - Vintage 1920's Gatsby Style Lady Gaga Cover ft. Ariana Savalas & Sarah Reich(1)
BELLA CIAO 2020 - KARAOKE ITALIANO
BAMBOLEO - Gipsy Kings • Antonio Banderas, Katya Virshilas
BAILANDO (original)
Awesome Ukrainian yodeler - SOFIA SHKIDCHENKO (with English subtitles)
Avicii - The Nights
Atom - The Great Gig in the Sky
Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Official Ly
Antonio Banderas - Cancion del Mariachi (Desperado)
André Rieu - Zorba's Dance (Sirtaki)
André Rieu - Can't Help Falling In Love
André Rieu & Mirusia - Ave Maria
Andrew Reyes Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down The Voice 2020 (
Andreas Kümmert Whiter Shade Of Pale The Voice of Germany 2013 Showd
And I Love You So
All About That Bass - Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Alan Walker - Faded (Piano Cover)
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers (cover by Canen 12 y.o.)
African music
Adriana Vidović - “Creep” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
Adriana Vidović - “Believer” Nokaut 3 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
A Fistful of Dollars - The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tuva
4 Beautiful Soundtracks Relaxing Piano [10min]
2CELLOS - Whole Lotta Love vs. Beethoven 5th Symphony [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal (Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo)
2CELLOS - Smells Like Teen Spirit [Live at Sydney Opera House]
2CELLOS - Despacito [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
13 Year Old Girl Playing Il Silenzio (The Silence) - André Rieu
094.All About That Bass
00 - SADNESS PART 1
(Ghost) Riders In the Sky (American Outlaws Live at Nassau Coliseum, 1
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams (Boyce Avenue ft. Conn
What a wonderful world
Moon river
×