(Photo : NASA/YouTube screenshot)
The idea of an orbiting human outpost in space was pragmatized when the first component of the International Space Station (ISS) was launched in 1998. It took several more years to launch the multiple numbers of modules to make ISS what it is now.
NASA shares the ownership of this modern day marvel with four other international space agencies viz. European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Roscosmos and Canadian Space Agency (CSA). However, in 2014, the U.S. Congress has set the deadline for the funding of ISS to 2024. This means that in 2024, the U.S. is going to withdraw its contributions and most probably its claim of ownership over the ISS. The question that persists is what will happen to the ISS after that, Popular Science reported.
It has been revealed that the annual funding of the ISS exceeds $3 billion, which is nearly half of the annual funding received by NASA. While some scientists and politicians believe that investing such a huge amount of money in one project is not wise, others are of the opinion that the role of the ISS in the furtherance of scientific research is too valuable to ignore. Therefore, whether to stop or continue with the ISS is a very sensitive topic.
The Congress House Committee on Science, Space and Technology conducted a special seating to discuss this subject. The members of the committee heard the testimonies of expert scientists who highlighted the achievements of the project and the level of public involvement and aspirations attached with the project. On the other hand, the budgetary constraints of the project and how it will be hampering the Mars mission were also discussed. Though a consensus could not be attained in the hearing, it is highly likely that these discussions will go on for a few more years.
However, the speculations of shutting down the funding of the ISS have led to some interesting theories. While some believe that without any funding and maintenance the space station may stop functioning altogether, some others are optimistic that it will be bought by Elon Musk or other billionaire-owned private space agency like Virgin Galactic. Then the company may decide to use it for promoting space tourism, turn it into a private holiday destination or start pay per experiment services, according to Wired.
It will be highly interesting to watch how things turn out for the International Space Station and how these expected changes will impact mankind’s quest of reaching the planets, stars and beyond.
Source: science news.