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July 15, 2009

NASA to junk space station in 2016

Posted: 10:33 AM ET

After a decade of costly construction, the International Space Station is nearing completion. But NASA won't have long to enjoy the achievement.

According to an article from the Washington Post, NASA space station program manager Michael T. Suffredini raised eyebrows when, at a public hearing last month, he declared flatly that NASA plans to de-orbit the station in 2016.

That means the $100 billion research facility, which has been circling Earth since 1998, will ultimately burst into flames as it reenters the Earth's atmosphere and crashes into the Pacific Ocean.

Budget constraints and the lack of a shuttle program, which is set to retire in 2010, may have persuaded NASA to end the space station program.

The Washington Post explains:

The rap on the space station has always been that it was built primarily to give the space shuttle somewhere to go. Now, with the shuttle being retired at the end of 2010, the station is on the spot. U.S. astronauts will be able to reach the station only by getting rides on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

There is no official lobbying to extend the mission, but NASA's plans have met with criticism. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) argues, "If we've spent a hundred billion dollars, I don't think we want to shut it down in 2015."

While speaking to a panel charged by the Obama administration with reviewing the entire human spaceflight program, Nelson affirmed, "My opinion is it would be a travesty to de-orbit this thing... If we get rid of this darned thing in 2015, we're going to cede our leadership in human exploration."

What do you feel should be done with the International Space Station? Does the initial $100 billion investment justify extending the program, or should we simply cut our losses and look toward a new future of space exploration?

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Filed under: Astronomy • International Space Station • NASA • science • Space

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concerned citizen   July 15th, 2009 10:53 am ET

they are nuts if are planing to de-orbit the space-station. when only recently it has been completed; they are already talking about ending it. it is a travesty when great minds have created a symbol of human achievement in space, and it is just simply be deleted. this will just further falter the American superiority in space exploration.

NHAIII   July 15th, 2009 10:59 am ET

Who cares, as long as it does not disturb the cable television satellites duting reentry.

Shane H   July 15th, 2009 11:02 am ET

Certainly not designed for it, and it would be a technological challenge, but could we not push the ISS up into a higher orbit and then drop it (ever so gently of course) onto the moon to be used as a cornerstone of human habitation there? This seems lilke a much wiser use of the resource than having it fall into the atmosphere after so many billions being spent, and many similar systems, facilities, and equipment will be needed on the moon over the next 20 years.

Steven   July 15th, 2009 11:03 am ET

Lunacy just nothing but pure lunacy. We spent all that money to build the d- thing and now we are going to junk it. This is why I say we should not go and start to build a colony on the moon. We can not keep any committments.

Daniel Coapstick   July 15th, 2009 11:04 am ET

Is there nothing to be gained from the International Space Station anymore? Its primary agenda has been of an international science workhorse, with particular focus on future deeper space missions such as a base installation on the Moon and on Mars. Although certain units of the space station are indeed aging (and more rapidly than they would on Earth due to space and solar radiation), ISS actually was finally completed when its laboratory docked not too long ago. This laboratory is a state of the art all purpose science laboratory that has already done some groundbreaking research in environmental conditions not available on Earth. Viruses and bacteria, once in zero gravity behave differently than they would here, thereby granting us complete new insights in how to treat these in the future. To abandon this basically new science laboratory would reflect the same poor decisions of throwing money out the window that has led the world into its economic crisis. NASA, please reconsider.

Stocker Brown   July 15th, 2009 11:21 am ET

Is this a trial balloon being floated? Is this fellow at NASA trying to stir people up in order to get more financial support for the ISS? Also, considering the numer of nations that have contributed to its construction and financing, I cannot see how the USA would believe it had any right to make any sort of unilateral decision regarding ISS. Something tells me the space station is not going to be destroyed soon. On the other hand, look at NASA's missteps. They're going back to 1960s-style Apollo-type rockets as space vehicles! And they are going to reduce the numer of crewmembers the thing can carry - from six to three! Welcome back, 1965!

Ray   July 15th, 2009 11:23 am ET

I'm aghast!

Billions spent to build, launch and assemble the station...and now we just junk it? Maybe NASA needs to get out of the space business–they've proven that an agency subject to the yearly whims of government budgetary battles can not succeed with long range plans.

If the United States is serious about manned exploration on the moon, having a space station to serve as a way station makes sense – as a safe harbor in the event of emergency or as a depot to stockpile equipment.

NASA kept the Hubble going long after its expected life cycle and the same for the Mars rovers. Will it take pressure on Congress to restore funding for the shuttle until the 'next-gen' vehicles are ready to roll?

Scott   July 15th, 2009 11:26 am ET

Why don't they have the shuttle drag it over to the moon and use it to help colonize the moon?

Travis   July 15th, 2009 11:26 am ET

It is fairly well known and articulated that this project was partly created by the G.H.W. Bush Administration as a way to keep Soviet missile, aerospace, and nuclear scientists gainfully employed after the collapse of the Soviet union.

That being said, it would be a shame to eliminate the system shortly after we complete it. I think human space travel is a worthy project.

ss   July 15th, 2009 11:27 am ET

Who cares? We can outsource our space program to India and China just like we do everything else We're a "service" economy now remember? When we in America talk about 'retaining our top talent", we're talking about accoutants, MBAs, and lawyers, not engineers and scientists.

Wolf   July 15th, 2009 11:27 am ET

This is one of the craziest ideas I have heard, which of course makes it likely to be true of NASA. There is still so much to learn, and the station can be used for so many other future programs. Not to mention the billions we have spent to build it that would be wasted if we de-orbit now. If NASA can't afford to launch crews, and Russia isn't interested, sell/lease it. China would jump at having a station, though they would not be my first choice. Private companies are on the verge of LEO transport... let them ferry the scientists, and maintain it. The only reason to de-orbit would be if it was was dangerous to keep it up and a stable orbit could no longer be maintained.

Futuristic Superbeerho   July 15th, 2009 11:31 am ET

It is simple, Nasa has figured out that "bulky equipment" is a thing of the past and that they need a lean mean space force, with a station on the moon. The end of big missions with big $$ and heavy loads. They never should have invested money in an orbiting station, the moon has always been the key. We wasted 40 years abandoning the moon and now we are finally going back.

Bob Sampson   July 15th, 2009 11:31 am ET

Is NASA CRAZY, OR JUST PLAIN STUPID? Any body in Goverment/NASA that agrees with this STUPID IDEA should be FIRED for INCOMETENCE! I'll be willing to bet that Russia or other countries would be happy to take over the station, especially if they were given on of the retiring Shuttles that NASA plans on scrapping any way! A typical STUPID OF OU TAX DOLLARS!

Mike   July 15th, 2009 11:35 am ET

I have a feeling that they'll keep it up for a bit longer than that. What with the Ares 1 launch system and Orion Spacecraft under development with their first missions to the ISS planned for 2015, it would seem a little silly to develop all this technology for one to dock with the other, and then throw one of them away the year following.

Ron   July 15th, 2009 11:37 am ET

Why don't we sell it to Pakitsan, North Korea or our finacial benefactors...China

John Brown   July 15th, 2009 11:39 am ET

I cannot answer the question unless I know what's replacing it. That is, if we're going to spend our "space dollars" on something more worthwhile like an "ISS2" or perhaps permanent colonization of the Moon, I might go along with de-orbiting the station. However, if the only reason we're going to de-orbit it is to save some money, I'd be totally against it. Money isn't everything!

Rick   July 15th, 2009 11:41 am ET

We should not de-orbit the ISS. 100 billion is too much money to burn away and additional experiments in the medical area could be continued. Who cares if the Russians are needed to get there. We probably have more money invested than anyone.

rogers sampaio   July 15th, 2009 11:41 am ET

This can not be for just the need of the russian ride! This is nuts! This is NASA's failure to find a new vehicle reusable to make the space travel to ISS. And guess what Virgin has one. And the ISS stands for International, not American, so Grab you module and burn it. I don't think the other countries involved will agree with that!

crabman   July 15th, 2009 11:41 am ET

what about an orbit around the moon

Slash   July 15th, 2009 11:43 am ET

It's always been my assumption that the primary purpose of the ISS was simply to gain experience and knowledge regarding long-term habitation of space by humans, in order to apply that knowledge for future manned missions to bodies farther away than the moon (such as near-Earth asteroids and Mars).

We've learned a heck of a lot about the various health concerns and behavior of keeping humans in space for months at a time, so perhaps it's getting close to the time to stop funding the ISS and put the money and resources into the next stage of space exploration-either a small grounded base on the moon or a trip to Mars.

PETER S   July 15th, 2009 11:44 am ET


Michael Capozzoli   July 15th, 2009 11:47 am ET

This may be the stupidest thing I have heard in days...and I have been watching the supreme justice Sonia Sotomayor hearings! Why in the world would you destroy something that we paid so much money for? We have the new Ares rocket being developed, the inexpensive Taurus rocket, and of course our Delta IV rockets to go to the space station to keep it staffed. Also, we COULD move it to a higher orbit so it will last longer. Why not plan ahead...NASA used to be good at that idea. Before the shuttle is decommissioned, attach an appropriate docking bay for the Ares and Delta rockets so we can keep using this facility until we are ready to return to the Moon and go to Mars. Come on, NASA...

J D   July 15th, 2009 11:51 am ET

Why not sell it to 2016 they will be a space power and we could use the money for that moon base thingy

niki   July 15th, 2009 11:51 am ET

I think NASA is so used to wasting money that they don't appreciate the value of the dollar or where or why they are spending it. We spend only a billion on power plants that supply electricity to millions for a lifetime. But they have spent 100 billion of our money on something that hasn't served any purpose other than to prove they could do it. I say lets use it for its intended purpose (if it ever had a purpose) or sell it to private firms to use for tourism. Then lets make NASA justify future expendatures so we see a return on our money in the long term. Technology has advanced but they have lost the vison it takes to use it for productive purposes.

Don   July 15th, 2009 11:51 am ET

Hmm ... why not land it on the moon and use it as a ready-made temporary shelter. Seems a complete waste to build all that and then just toss it away!

Michael   July 15th, 2009 11:52 am ET

The idea of junking the $100 billion Space Station is nothing short of criminal. If that is how shortsighed NASA leadership has become it is time for a good housecleaning. It is a shame to see how far NASA has fallen since the days of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. Getting rid of the space station takes us completely out of the manned space arena and puts us back in line with the rest of the third world. What a shame!

Vinny   July 15th, 2009 11:52 am ET

Nasa itself should be dismantled. Why not everyone else hardly blinks an eye when the tax payers send BILLIONS on bailouts. Why not let the Japan and China become dominant in space as well. The USA has screwed just about everything else up. Hey we can watch China and Japan strides in space on "YouTube" or get info from "Twitter". Lets just sit on butts and watch it on our big screen TV with a Budweiser. Oh sorry neither are American companies.
Wake up America OUR Space Program could use a bailout!

Gen Y   July 15th, 2009 11:52 am ET

I figured this would happen, but it's a waste.

The space station's design was disconnected from purpose for a long time. It was originally designed as Freedom in the 80's and it made sense in light of the pre-Challenger optimism.

The current NASA suffers from a lack of purpose. Manned landings on Mars, a permanent outpost on the moon... both are worthy goals but neither have been pursued actively. The station hasn't been tasked with outfitting a craft for a mission to mars, or as a waystation for lunar missions, but it is capable of both.

The problem is that while there are potential missions that could use the station and give it a purpose, we don't have any FUNDED programs that would take stewardship of the station after its construction is complete.

dt   July 15th, 2009 11:53 am ET

Im glad I dont have to go into detail about how absurd this is. Most of us agree how stupid this is. (Sarcasm) "Oh Ok lets spend billions of dollars to build a kickass space station that we can finally live and work in year round, oh its done? Lets just deorbit it now!" WTF!

David Greer   July 15th, 2009 11:56 am ET

Junk it??? You must be joking!
It is not even completed and we're thinking of de-orbiting. That is utterly ridiculous. I am a supporter for space exploration in general, and I understand everything has a useful life. But de-orbiting only after 5-6 years of use is ridiculous. No matter how much the thing cost.

Nighthawk620   July 15th, 2009 11:57 am ET

We would be foolish and wasteful to allow the station to burn up on de-orbit. I believe the NASA chief is trying to impress upon Congress how short-sighted it would be to let this resource die. We as a planet have invested in this station, lets use it to advance the research into new materials and medicines as was first put forth by NASA. The reporters have not researched the history of this project deeply enough. It was always more than a destination for the shuttle.It is an asset that needs to be used for a long time to at least get back some return on our investment.

jeff   July 15th, 2009 11:58 am ET

This almost sounds like a bogus story to me.

Krishna   July 15th, 2009 11:59 am ET

How much use has come out of th $100 Billion spent on the ISS? It has been in space for years now – there should have been some tangible results. If there have been none, there is no justification to maintain it and spend more billions on keeping it alive. In my opinion, the keeping the ISS going seems to be just a 'matter of national pride'. Is it necessary to keep it going just for that sole reason?

ArthurJ   July 15th, 2009 12:01 pm ET

Deorbiting the ISS would be a colossal waste of money and effort. Consider that the space station has yet to be completed, but now NASA is speculating about the possibility of scrapping the whole project in just 7 years. That would be the same as GM announcing a year ago their plans to cease production of the Camaro in 2015.

The money has been spent. Granted, there are costs associated with maintaining the station in orbit, but these costs pale in comparison with building a new station, which would be the next logical step. So long as the station is functional and safe, then it has the capacity to contribute to human knowledge, and should be used for that purpose for as long as is reasonable or until a suitable replacement is in use.

Senator Nelson is right when he says that deorbiting the ISS would be a travesty. One day, the time will come to decommission and almost certainly deorbit (a polite word for destroy) the ISS. That day has yet to come and I doubt that the day will have come by 2016. Use the time between now and then to evaluate the station's performance and use that data to determine what the next space station will need (or not need).

I think it would be fine to speculate on the possibility of deorbiting the station in 2016, provided NASA planned to continually evaluate the stations cost and performance against future alternatives. But to declare today that the station will be deorbited in 2016 is not only short-sighted, it's a mindset inappropriate for a manager working on the front lines of the human exploration of the cosmos.

UMDTerrapin   July 15th, 2009 12:01 pm ET

First off, let me just ask, How educated are some of you posting on here?
Moon orbit of the ISS? – so completly impossible I laughed out loud.
& billions of dollars spent? I'll let you know that the entire NASA budget is less than 1% of the whole country's budget, so the amount of money that the gov't is spending on the ISS is so small compared to things like the war, bailouts, etc.

Do any of you understand what has come out of the ISS program in the last 10 years? Continuous mind-blowing research and experiments on everything from fire research (my profession and field of study) to plastics manufacturing and so on. Litterally thousands of things that we deal with on a regular basis every day got their start either on Mir, Skylab or the ISS. It would be a shame to discontinue an amazing orbiting laboratory that who knows what scientific break throughs it and the scientists and engineers are going to give us tomorrow. Check out this website for all the NASA, the shuttle and the ISS have done in your every day life.

DrAlex   July 15th, 2009 12:02 pm ET

That's just great news, lets forget about space altogether! Let us forget about the trillions of dollars to be made from mining asteroids full of precious metals, forget about the possibility of figuring out the origins of the solar system, forget about the exponential growth of the human species and the limited space on earth, forget about science altogether.
Instead we need to spend the money on research for fun military gadgets that can melt human beings into protein soup, or perhaps missiles that can explode hundreds of feet in the air decimating all life within a 5 mile radius.
You would think that a story like this would be on the front page news of every newspaper, but we have bigger fish to fry. **** science, we NEED to know if MJ's nose was real, we CAN'T live without knowing what Palin is up to nowadays, we MUST know who killed that photogenic white toddler...please Nancy Grace help us.
I love this country and the freedoms we have, however the stupidity of the majority of it's citizens and the ignorance towards the "big picture" is the reason that we are all doomed to fail in the long run.

Jeremy Werner   July 15th, 2009 12:02 pm ET

I think this underscores the rediculous planning for our space program. On one hand, I think we should maintain leadership. This is an issue of enormous national pride and identity and has been symbolic of our progress of a nation. On the other hand, it is a program which costs tax-payers tremendous amounts of money which other than pride, gives little back to our citizens. Why do we spend 100 billion usd to then turn around and junk it? Is this the kind of planning our taxpayers are supposed to continue to support? Imagine now what we could do with 100 million! HELP RICHARD BRANSON!

LaVoid   July 15th, 2009 12:03 pm ET

lets send it to mars (along with the people that thought it was a good idea to fund and build this thing).

Billy Harkins   July 15th, 2009 12:03 pm ET

Why not rent it out to the Chinese? They have the money to subsidize our Federal Stimlus, They can just use the space station instead of spending money and lives on untested projects of their own. They just need to come up with their own transportation back and forth.

Dude   July 15th, 2009 12:04 pm ET

Saving those who screwed us....700 billion dollars

Giving free healthcare to the bums...100 billion dollars

Liberate other countries who hate us...300 billion dollars

Maintain shuttles while Russians were doing the same thing in 10th the price....50 billion dollors

Make a space station to have a destination for those shuttles...100 billion dollors

Kill the shuttles and the station ...10 billion dollars

My money that I earn working two jobs totaling 18 hrs a day including weekends....FREE

Cody Solley   July 15th, 2009 12:05 pm ET

Really? After all this work and time and sacrafice they are going to use it for 5 years and get rid of it? Thats retarded. How long was MIR up there? 20 years? Thats just stupid.

Rocketman   July 15th, 2009 12:06 pm ET

It would seem that components may still be used to form a semi
sort of mars mission module and still maintain some sort of station
just the same. I do think NASA may want private industries to take over
as there should be 2 to 3 manned vendors by then and serviceing and
shuttling astronauts to the ISS leaving the NASA budget for deep space funding .

womack   July 15th, 2009 12:06 pm ET

For the cost and purpose of the space station and the potential it will have in the coming years, it should stay up there until it is too old to be used–like the time goes it may be possible to add on to the station to increase its use....

Paulie Blais   July 15th, 2009 12:07 pm ET

Ridiculous !! Either stop right now or figure out how to support it beyond 2015. We can't keep spending billions to build it and only have a plan to destroy it soon after. If this is NASA's and the Obama Administration's idea of prudent fiscal management, then it is a sad day for America.

Just think of what we could have done with all those funds over the last decade in terms of robotic missions to other planets, etc.

UMDTerrapin   July 15th, 2009 12:07 pm ET

This is a great website of NASA spinoffs, many of them experimented on the ISS.

Thomas   July 15th, 2009 12:08 pm ET

Well one of the problems is what real good does the ISS provide?

It is in the wrong orbital plane for use as a staging area for travel to the other planets. The ISS is at 51 degrees. The orbital plane was choosen because it was cost effective for the Russian launches.

There are many experments that can be done in Earth orbit, but do they justify the costs?

In the time it has been in use (even though it is still being constructed) we have not seen any significant scientific or industrial breakthroughs that would justify the costs.

The ISS does not even serve to spark widespread interest in the various space programs. Few things are more boring and non-newsworthy than a safely functioning space station. (yawn). I hazard that not many citizens even know that much about the ISS.

I fault NASA for putting the ISS in an orbit that is not very useful for further space flight. Now that it is built, it may be a question of do we want to continue putting bad money after bad money?

bmaccoy   July 15th, 2009 12:09 pm ET

They should not discontinue the shuttle program and abandon the space station. They could reduce the fleet to say 2 vehicals, upgrade them and make a trip to space station twice a year. Continuing the reasearch and possable manufacturing of items that can only be made in a no gravity environment.

K. Kirk   July 15th, 2009 12:10 pm ET

I can't help but think that if we could spend $100 billion on the space station, why not stage it on the moon? If we can land a space craft on the moon we should be able to put the space station on the moon as well.

Just a thought!

K. Kirk

Tom Kendrick   July 15th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

I'd rather keep the space station and junk the upcoming health care debacle. I'd rather keep the space shuttles than the socialist Federal gummint we have too.

Marc H   July 15th, 2009 12:11 pm ET

Astonishingly short-sighted. The ISS is nearing completion, finally offering the energy generation, crew size and platform capacity to do some real, hard space science. To de-orbit this massively expensive space infrastructure now is like blowing up the Golden Gate bridge shortly after the ribbon cutting ceremony.

The "built with the shuttle in mind" rationale for scraping the ISS is particulary flawed. Sure, it's been a destination for the space shuttle, but retirement of the shuttle orbiter isn't reason give up on the ISS, it's reason to develop a new (cheaper and more reliable) alternative. Does even the most ardent critic of the manned space program really think the US doesn't need some sort of manned low-orbit capacity?

And excuse me, but what exactly is so wrong with relying on Russian Soyuz technology to support the ISS in the short or even medium term? The ISS was conceived as an international effort to begin with. Better to keep those ex-Soviet rocket scientists working to support ISS than selling their expertise to rogue nations looking for ballistic missile technology.

Stupid is a stupid does......

Julnor   July 15th, 2009 12:12 pm ET

Just a note to all those who suggested that we move the ISS to the Moon. This is not possible. There are no rockets powerful enough to get ISS out of Earth orbit. Even if you could, you have to slow it down to get it into lunar orbit. The station is not designed to handle that kind of thrust load anyway. Plus, the thermal environment around the Moon is so severe (extremely hot, extremely cold) that even if you could magically get it there, it probably would not be able to withstand the environment.

ISS   July 15th, 2009 12:12 pm ET

This is totally made up. The space station is not ours to de-orbit, it is an international facility with International parts....the person who posted this has NO facts. Suf did not say this.

Thomas   July 15th, 2009 12:13 pm ET

Shane H,

"Certainly not designed for it, and it would be a technological challenge, but could we not push the ISS up into a higher orbit and then drop it (ever so gently of course) onto the moon to be used as a cornerstone of human habitation there? "

No. First of all the ISS has a mass of over a third of a million Kilograms, the amount of power needed to move it from Earth's orbit, through Translunar space, and then land it safely on the moon would be impractically large. For comparision, the Apollo LEM had a mass of 15,000 kilograms and we had a hard time getting that to land safely on the moon.

Second, even the moon's low amount of gravity would still crush the structure of the ISS. Special supports would be needed to safely distribute the stress and would also be impractically costly.

Scott R. Lenz   July 15th, 2009 12:13 pm ET

Never fear. Once the de-orbit date approaches, Richard Branson will announce he is buying the ISS, renaming it 'Virgin Galactic', and will be turning it into a space hotel.

kevin   July 15th, 2009 12:14 pm ET

This is what is wrong with this country. We spend multi billion dollars on a project that is just going to be scrapped in less than 10 years. Great job American Goverment...Great Job.

Marc in Quebec   July 15th, 2009 12:17 pm ET

We went to the moon and then stopped because the ratings were bad. We were supposed to put a station on the moon but that's not likley any more.

We are supposed to go to Mars. I doubt that we will do that either.

Can't we do anything right anymore? Come on, maintain it, use it and let us get the full use of the billions that we spent on it!

Rick   July 15th, 2009 12:18 pm ET

Typical Nasa, more money than brains.

Naldr   July 15th, 2009 12:18 pm ET

It doesn't matter what we think, the gov't does not live in an accountability world and they will do whatever they want.

Justin   July 15th, 2009 12:19 pm ET

What a waste, so it costs one tenth of a TRILLION dollars to get only 17 years use of that money, with the full station only just completed?! NASA is quickly becoming a joke in my opinion, they have little direction and apparently all of their PhDs came from a Cracker Jack box as they are constantly having issues with nominal things like measurement systems, losing plans on how to build a Lunar capable spacecraft, and a constant showing of de-evolution in space progress in my opinion. It seems that after the shuttles came out NASA has gone down hill in a big hurry. I hope they get their stuff together soon or the USA will be about 3rd or 4th on the totem poll of space exploration. This just goes to show you that no real space exploration may be possible until the world stops being dependent on incentive based monetary systems that have taken over ambition and the innate curiosity we as a species have, or used to anyways.

Thomas   July 15th, 2009 12:21 pm ET

Stocker Brown ,ET

"On the other hand, look at NASA’s missteps. They’re going back to 1960s-style Apollo-type rockets as space vehicles! And they are going to reduce the numer of crewmembers the thing can carry — from six to three! Welcome back, 1965!"
Actually it would be welcome back, 1968, but in any case, it is not a misstep but an acknowledgement of a superior design. The Max Faget reentry body design is well suited for these types of missions. It is safe proven technology that limits the complexity and therefore the risks. The Faget design is also cheaper than the reusable STS system.
The new system, orion, will be able to carry 4-6 crew members vice the 3 that the Apollo system could.

Patrick   July 15th, 2009 12:23 pm ET

I say lets keep adding on to it like a leggo set and keep it as an outpost for Moon and Mars missions in the future. Why waste a 100 billion?

Redeye Dog   July 15th, 2009 12:24 pm ET

The space station cannot and will not be retired in 2016. As with previous work horses, like the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA begins voicing their concern early to start the political wheels turning. The Hubble has been extended twice now, I believe.

The Space Station represents a global effort of cooperation and unity. It provides us with robust data through experimentation which cannot be reproduced on Earth. Failure to extend it would not only be a great waste of money, but we would also lose another successful platform for friendly global communication.

Remember, we are not talking about a Russian MIR Space Station bucket of bolts. This place is a state of the art facility with a potential 100 year life span if we take care of it. If anything, I would hope that NASA would phase out the station by releasing modules over time so that it's key mission tasks could be continued to the very end.

Michael Carrillo   July 15th, 2009 12:24 pm ET

What's another $100 Billion wasted...We would have just wasted it on an unnecessary war, or on bailing out a failing insurance or auto company.

Terrorists don't need to try to destroy our country, we're doing it to ourselves.

Nighthawk620   July 15th, 2009 12:25 pm ET


I'm am in total agreement with you, but you must remember, this is a public forum, and you will get all sorts of opinions. I have always been a firm believer in NASA or ANY scientific research funding because it all adds to our knowledge of how the universe really works. We need to stop looking for the fast buck and start looking for long term benefits for both ourselves, our children, and this planet. Space exploration helps us to understand all of that.

Gary Leach   July 15th, 2009 12:27 pm ET

Both the space shuttle and the ISS are projects so rife with design compromises and budget overruns that we will never see the true value we really needed to have from them. The shuttle has achieved some amazing things, but its flaws have cost 14 lives so far in-flight. And while the ISS, being a comparatively passive vehicle, is unlikely to chalk up such a record of fatalities (and may well have none), it's been far too crippled by some of the most inept expense-to-capacity calculations ever perpetrated to ever be a worthwhile destination for future Earth-to-orbit vehicles.

I'm not by any means against space exploration, by man or robot, but the simple fact is we can do better than this…we can to so much better than this.

tony prendatt   July 15th, 2009 12:28 pm ET

I have followed NASA since Eisenhower commissioned it in 1958. You folks are the world's true "rocket scientists" and are responsible for what remains to this day as human kinds greatest technical achievement; landing human beings on the moon and returning them safely home. An achievement which we honor this month 40 years later.
Scrubbing the International Space Station a mere 6 years after completion is ridiculous. The taxpayers and scientists and project managers have earned the privilege of at least a decade of study and achievements from this platform once all construction is finished.
Scrub the Bush Administration charge for a return to the moon before 2020. We left the moon in December 1972 and The Obama Administration questions the need for a return at this time given the expense of developing and perfecting the technology over the next decade.
DON'T RETIRE the remaining shuttle fleet just yet. Refurbish and extend the life of the fleet so we can continue sending scientific crews to the ISS until at least 2020. Don't leave us "grounded" while we await Orion/Constellation technology which is years from perfection. Don't leave us totally dependent on the Russian Federation to get our crews into space. Don't leave us at a severe disadvantage. Not now. Not after all that we've accomplished. We are the leaders in space technology. We won the cold wars so called "space race".
We MUST remain leaders in the frontier of space technology and space travel.
Yes the space shuttle is expensive. We knew that when we built it.
Yes we've lost 2 vehicles and 2 crews (God Bless Them All), but the shuttle program is a major success given the risks of space flight vs. the number of successful missions since the programs beginning in the early 80s.
Please don't abandon the ISS so quickly. Please extend the Shuttle program. The moon will still be there for a manned return in the mid 2020s.....................Please.

brian   July 15th, 2009 12:30 pm ET

I think people are forgetting that the ISS program was never met to be permanent. There are components that have been up there since 1998, most space systems only look for a 10-15 year lifespan. And it's not like we spent all that money and only now are beginning to see the payoffs. This progam has been producing results since the start and i think that maybe it's time to allow it to end as it was intended, before there any catatrophic failures. I just don't think that ordinary citizen can really call for any course of action without knowing fundamentals of spacecraft design.

M Pollard   July 15th, 2009 12:33 pm ET

Talk about short sighted!! First off, I thought this was an "International" space station. I'm fairly certain some of the other members of this project would have something to say about this. Second, if this is the case, why have we spent the last week trying to get another space shuttle mission there? Kill the thing now! OR, shut up, realize this has a great deal of scientific importance to human achievement and figure out ways to get people there (by the way, he may wish to apologize to the Russians for the implied slight of their Soyuz program).

Ron   July 15th, 2009 12:34 pm ET

Has NASA lost their minds? They're destroying it soon, but today they're launching yet another shuttle to continue building it??? Let's finish building it so we can destroy it??? What's wrong with this picture?

I'm for keeping it active, but if they insist on throwing all that money down the drain, don't keep adding MORE to the loss!!

Scott   July 15th, 2009 12:34 pm ET

Here's one vote to junk this white elephant and start saving some greenbacks RIGHT NOW!!

Andreas   July 15th, 2009 12:37 pm ET

If it could be moved into an earth-moon lagrange point, it would be there for a long time even when human kind cedes.

Susan   July 15th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

Last I heard, this was still an INTERNATIONAL space station. Other countries have shouldered significant parts of the design and financial burdens, and assist in supplying and crewing the station. Have they even been consulted about the decision to let it crash and burn? And what if the instability of the economy causes the Moon program to be de-funded before 2020? Talk about being all dressed up and noplace to go! - NASA could conceivably be signing its own death warrant by deciding to do away with the ISS, given that the vast majority of Americans don't consider any kind of space program "worthwhile" unless there's some big marquee project they can point to.

Prakhar   July 15th, 2009 12:40 pm ET

Absolutely not. We should work with our international partners to make this work. If Hubble, which was planned for few years, can be used for decades with routine maintenance and repairs we surely make $100 bn investment work longer.

craig holm   July 15th, 2009 12:40 pm ET

At a time when we're all reminded of the consequences of what a lack of long-term thinking and planning does to an economy, we hear of more of the same, this time applied to space exploration and scientific advancement.

So there will be a period when the United States will not have a launch vehicle to get to the space station. This isn't even close to a good reason for deorbiting the first major international space project.

Not having a space shuttle doesn't mean there isn't useful work that can't be accomplished on the space station. At the very least reliable manned and unmanned Russian capsules can still support space station activities.

One or more propulsion modules will probably be required to bring the space station down in a relatively safe fashion. Why not push the space station to a higher orbit, "out of the way," for use when we regain our access to the station? On that note – why must we always destroy our major achievements in space? Skylab could have been pushed higher in orbit, Mir could have been pushed higher in orbit. They'll eventually crash Hubble into the Earth too. A hundred years from now wouldn't it be nice for our decendents to see the evidence of humanity's first steps into conquering space? When we finally return to the Moon, some clown will want to clean up the mess left at Tranquility Base.

An how is it that the European Space Agency and Japan doesn't appear to have a say in a major project in which they've played a major role?

Then of course loosing the Space Shuttle can also represent a commercial aerospace opportunity. NASA, crippled by Congressional short-sightedness, may not have the wherewithall to provide inexpensive access to the space station, but I'll bet Burt Rutan and his peers, backed by the likes of Sir Richard Branson and a few of his buddies could likely provide the U.S. and the rest of the world with more availability to Low Earth Orbit and the Space Station than we can handle.

Lastly, we always hear the argument that we spend far too much money "up there" when there are people in need "down here." In point of fact, there are no dollar bills in orbit. The money spent in our space activities winds up paying the mortgages, medical and college bills for the families of the people working in these high-tech programs.

Bring down the International Space Station because the United States won't have ready access to it for a few short years?

Even Forest Gump knows that stupid is as stupid does.

Buck   July 15th, 2009 12:41 pm ET

Keep it. Maintain it. Use it for research. Use it as a refueling point for moon and Mars missions. Come on, people, use a little imagination here. We've got the right tools in the right place at the right time. Pulling the plug would be a waste.

blackadder   July 15th, 2009 12:43 pm ET

time for NASA to cut bait and run. use the money for a lunar base/Mars launch program. the ISS was a mistake from the beginning.

Meki Mull   July 15th, 2009 12:43 pm ET

Not surprising, shutdown the space program and give the money to the poor starving immigrants and lazy butts. Right on BO!

nic   July 15th, 2009 12:45 pm ET

De-orbit ? How about the "ISS Hilton" or "The Westin Spa in Space"

William Of Occam   July 15th, 2009 12:47 pm ET

I think we should discontinue the space program entirely and forever. Give the money that was planned for space exploration to the minorities. Specifically, African Americans.

pyromorph   July 15th, 2009 12:47 pm ET

The space station is completely useless, and has produced nothing of consequence scientifically (just a few pretty pictures). It was built because everyone knows from reading science fiction that that is what you are supposed to do. It won't be missed. In the future we should only fund space missions that have scientific value.

Chuck   July 15th, 2009 12:48 pm ET

I have an idea... let's spend trillions of tax dollars on a pre-fab station on Mars. But before we finish, let's blow it up, scrap all the money invested, and move onto Jupiter. Mars was old news anyway. Jupiter is far more exciting.

Does that make sense? Yea... neither does abandoning the ISS.

George   July 15th, 2009 12:49 pm ET


I think we sell it to the Chinese. How about all our outstanding debt to them for a used Space Station that only has a few million miles on it.

tom   July 15th, 2009 12:49 pm ET

Depends on the amount of scientific knowledge being gained and learned from the space station. If maintaining the space station costs less than other ways of learning how to live and travel in space, then the space station should be maintained. If maintaining the space station has completed its function, then we should let the space station go.

Arlen   July 15th, 2009 12:49 pm ET

Since NASA is throwing in the towel, perhaps the best way to proceed is to cut NASA's budget almost completely, and fund private companies to do our science missions in space.

Most of the work done in space is not done by NASA, but by contractors working for NASA.

This is most likely just a ploy for NASA to increase its budget.

Fredericskburg, VA

Michael D.   July 15th, 2009 12:50 pm ET

No! Keep it in orbit for at least another 10 years, at least until another space station can be built to replace it. It would be crucial to the space program and our country to keep an orbiting station, to progress upon what we have already learned from space exploration. We need to build upon the knowledge we have gained over the years, and also give future astronauts/cosmonauts a good facility (in space) to for learning, experiments and further training. To let it deorbit in just a few years and burn up in our atmosphere is surely a travesty of great proportions as we would lose all those billions of dollars we have already invested, and would (quite literally) have to start all over again. Let's keep all nations interested in keeping the station up there an operational...or to at least build another, greater station. Thank you.

Tony O   July 15th, 2009 12:53 pm ET


It could serve as a number of useful of potential uses such as:

1.) An emergency port of call for future maned space missions. (After all, it has clean new bathroom facilities.)

2.) Rent it to Hilton Hotels as a travel destination. (Perhaps Paris H. would do the promotional walk-through showing off her new line of space furniture... )

3.) A nuclear waste dump station for Iran and N. Korea.

4.) An ethical and moral rehabilitation center for right-wing politicians caught red-handed indulging in sordid, non-Christian-like affairs.

5.) An orbiting satellite repair shop with pick-up and delivery services with drive-up window for maintenance drop-offs.

6.) Rent it to China or a consortium of other counties interested in conducting non-destructive zero gravity research on marginally useful new plastic products.

The list of suggestions could go on ad infinitum but anything but real, meaningful science is out of the question...after all, according to Nasa's forward thinkers, there will never again be a future need for a near-earth space station for any other purposes anyway!

Oaktree   July 15th, 2009 12:53 pm ET

What is wrong with the ISS?

Yurii   July 15th, 2009 12:54 pm ET

I don't think that it is US decision what to do with Space Station. After all it is International Space Station and by the way was never ever built only for purpose to serve shuttle.

BBrosch   July 15th, 2009 12:55 pm ET

Thats just typical, lobby for all that money for a space station, then retire the shuttle fleet, then scrap the the space station. I think the US should just stop spending (wasting) money on things they have no commit on.
I can just picture the questions from a Mars Colony..." What do you mean you won't be sending any supplies???"

Jim   July 15th, 2009 12:56 pm ET

The Jackson family should buy it and intern Michael there.

Art   July 15th, 2009 12:57 pm ET

Once again, we waste the taxpayers money on dead end projects. We spend billions to go to the moon, we haven't been back in nearly 40 years. We finally get a vehicle that can land on a runway, and we terminate the program and its technology. We get a space station, and we use it for 6 years, then scrap it. Now they are wasting money on "spam in a can" again. ENOUGH. NASA MUST either build a vehicle that can take off from a runway, enter orbit to work on a space station to transport people and material, than return to a runway, or focus on programs that provide huge paybacks- the robotic explorers. NASA needs to focus on the NA portion of their agency, the National AERONAUTICS and space admin.

Fallout   July 15th, 2009 12:57 pm ET

With the state of the economy, the US space program is probably not very popular right now. However, one still needs to see the big picture: the Earth continues to become overpopulated and has limited resources. The exploration of space, and the scientific achievements that result from it, are vital to the future of mankind. I think the space station is important as a stepping stone for future missions of many kinds, and I hope the politicians and administrators that decide the fate of it won't bow to the short-sightedness of many who can't see beyond their own immediate problems.

Scott W   July 15th, 2009 12:58 pm ET

Sheer insanity. And, uh, isn't this the INTERNATIONAL space station? NASA just gets to unilatteraly decide to burn it up? Screw that! Recommision the shuttles! 3rd worst thing Bush ever did was to put a deadline on shuttle operations. They still work! I think we need an new ISS project manager.

hctim621   July 15th, 2009 12:58 pm ET

I have been following space exploration since I could understand it in the early sixties. I had a poster with the orignal astronauts, my idles, all around the edge and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo crafts in the middle. It inspired me to be someone as my idles were before me!!

I finally was able to go to Kennedy Space Center in 2007 and saw Glenn, Carpenter and Al Worden speak to me and an audienace of fellow boomers and young people alike 15 feet in front of us.

Mankind needs to keep orbiting and going beyond orbit to other planets, objects, etc – making new discoveries, learning and thriving becasue of them.

We need to keep funding space exploration and the ISS, future moon landings, colonies, trips to mars and beyond. They should all be funded. Someone earlier in this blog stated how many Nasa projects such as mars rovers, etc function well beyond their initial mission, creating new discoveries...

I will write my Congressman, Representatives, and the President himself to voice my wish of Our Countries money, which is our tax money, OUR money, to continue THE MISSION. ALL missions that give our WORLD a chance to survive and thrive!!

I wish I still had the poster, but it's engraned in my memory FOREVER!!

hctim621-In Maine

Mikey   July 15th, 2009 1:00 pm ET

The ISS has been a near-complete waste of money. It has distracted from both human and robotic space science. It has never been staffed the way it was supposed to be, due to lack of a trustworthy shuttle system. As a result of this chronic understaffing, the resident astronauts have spent way too much of their time simply maintaining this white elephant.
It will be good to see this thing go away, along with the shuttles. Then perhaps NASA can refocus on new technology and exploration, instead of endless maintenance.

Robert   July 15th, 2009 1:01 pm ET

What a waste of taxpayer dollars.
I've had a low opinion of NASA ever since they started the Shuttle program. The only significant thing I can remember about all of the missions is the two disasters and perhaps the fixing of the Hubbell Deep Space telescope.
NASA should be ashamed of themselves and their program budgets cut during these very tough economic times!

ty   July 15th, 2009 1:01 pm ET

moon orbit it

timo606   July 15th, 2009 1:02 pm ET

I can't believe nasa is going to destroy such an amazing piece of machinery. What else does nasa have to do? It really makes me sad to think of 100 billion of tax payers dollars going up in smoke.

Bill   July 15th, 2009 1:05 pm ET

To All -

This is a political ploy by NASA to get more funding to operate past the 'original' date of 2016.

It's a good ploy, it will work and I highly doubt that they'll de-orbit the thing before the 2025 timeframe.


- Bill

Rich A.   July 15th, 2009 1:06 pm ET

Without getting emotional about it, I don't see why the ISS isn't useful just because the shuttle fleet is being retired. Why won't the next generation of space craft (Ares) need a place to go before the final jump off to the moon?

Why can't the ISS be used as a future staging site for materials to be moved to the moon for the first permanent base?

Why also, can't the ISS continue to be used for science experiments as it has been?

Kevin K   July 15th, 2009 1:09 pm ET

Here's the big question I have about this story...

Does NASA actually have the authority to say they're going to de-orbit it? The IIS is a multi-national facitility with several international partners who all have time and money invested. I would think NASA can say they'll no longer support/fund the station, but I would imagine that it would take agreement by all of the partner nations for it to be de-orbited.

Alley   July 15th, 2009 1:09 pm ET

We are giving away our technology and our lead in scientific advancement. Giving away all we worked so hard for. Without advanced research, the US falls by the wayside in so many ways. The god thing to come from the cold war? Space exploration. We need the advances it will bring and we need them to benefit our country or we are buying it from other countries. i am appalled at the short sightedness of politicians.

Ken   July 15th, 2009 1:13 pm ET

Are they NUTS!? The billions spent putting it there. I guess it's not a shiny enough toy for NASA anymore. So much for International Cooperation and "Decision Making". What's wrong with extending the service life? Hell, the Hubble and B52s are still in operation. This is still the only current viable laboratory for getting a better understanding of the reaction of human physiology and psychology to long term space travel. A "return to the moon" would also an another viable location for an additional lab to further the understanding of how to function in "low gravity". I hope the review panel recommends a more careful long term approach; extend the ISS service life, establish a permanent presence on the moon, and strong increased international partnerships on manned and unmanned space ventures.

jaskogsd   July 15th, 2009 1:13 pm ET

I think it's another waste of our hard earned money, that the goverment just waste. We should design the new space craft to dock to the space station and to explore the space frontier, AND NOT RELAY on the RUSSIANS. Our country is out sourcing too much to other countries it makes the USA look like we can't support ourselves

Richie   July 15th, 2009 1:13 pm ET

keep it up there and keep the shuttle program active, I think the technology is to great to stop both programs.

Fred   July 15th, 2009 1:14 pm ET

Why not, put all the space shuttles in low orbit, and attach them to the space station. Then we could have the shuttles up there, no need for the extra tanks, since we would not need to get off the earth, the shuttles would be in orbit already. We could fuel them there, and give them a protective kevlar skin wrap so to speak, that would keep the micro-metor's for damaging the aging ceramic tiles.

Geez, I think 100 billion dollars, your not getting your money's worth. Their are air planes fying that are older than the space station, and was considerable cheaper to be built.

Use the space station as a leeping pad, to go into space. Add too it, make it into a hub for space travel. I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot, if we do not.

Space needs to be explored, humantiy needs to get off this rock. Period.

Vern   July 15th, 2009 1:20 pm ET

Give/sell to Branson and put a big Virgin logo on it. Use for space tourism. What a waste of equipment and like our oceans need the waste. Come on Green peace jump on it.

Mike   July 15th, 2009 1:25 pm ET

It's obvious this is a funding ploy and almost everyone here fell for it.

doc   July 15th, 2009 1:28 pm ET

In regards to the space station, after so much investment I feel they should keep it. If nothing else It can be used for further scientific research. There has been Billons spent on this so why give it up now especially when every other country is trying to establish a space program designed to go to the moon. If other countries establish a base station, regardless of where it is, the moon or just above the atmosphere, then the U.S.A. needs to maintain it's rightful place in space exploration. The stars are unlimited. Go for it.

tom kenny   July 15th, 2009 1:30 pm ET

The station should be given engines, additional docking bays for support vehicles and sent to orbit the moon as a command center. Having learned from that, It should be upgraded in high orbit and sent for a similar task to Mars, to make exploration and colonization easier. Later it could be kept at Mars as a tourist attraction.

Chris   July 15th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

It is all to do with money and how a company/institution spends it:

1. Capital – The initial investment which is justified planned and spent, this is the easy bit and has cost NASA $100 billion and that money is gone.
2. Revenue – This is the bit which companies and government institutions hate. Revenue comes from your budget and revenue is difficult to obtain and justify and tends to increase year on year and there is always pressure from the top to cut things from it to reduce your budget or to spend it on other projects
It cost $100 billion to build SS that money has been spent on capital and is gone and you don't have to work on getting the money anymore, however, the revenue charge to maintain the space station is a year on year cost pressure which has to be justified and that is what hurts. To cut your budget it is easy reduce your revenue spent on maintenance (SS). The SS has been completed, the capital is spent, do you want to keep it afloat from your revenue budget which has constant pressure on it. De-orbit the SS and you then have the revenue it cost to maintain the SS to spend on something else.

It is as complicated and as simple as that, pride, results and achievement don't come into the equation its all down to managing budgets.


CJ   July 15th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

I believe that the ISS is a fundamental investment in the future of US space exploration, and should not be scraped so capriciously. Indeed, without the shuttle program, it will not be able to be readily maintained, but that does not mean we should destroy it.

100 billion dollars- if we are so fluid with that kind of transactions, why is Congress absconding plans that would benefit our wellbeing here on Earth?

Besides it could be used for other purposes, such as a docking station for the next generation of teh space shuttle program.

Jeff   July 15th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

It would be almost impossible to move the ISS to the moon, if I'm not mistaken, we use the earth's gravity to sling shot us to the moon and to fit rockets on the ISS to perform that task would probably cost another 100 billion dollars. Then trying to land that football field size structure on the surface of the moon would be another task that would cost billions of dollars.
We should have never put the ISS where it's located at in the first place, if anything we should have set our sights on Mars, since it's the closest planet and may have had links to life at some point in time.

Let's face it, we have to do something since we're not going to stop our breeding habits to reduce our population levels on earth. Sooner or later, we will destroy earth because we are a virus that's out of control.

Unless we develop a space craft that can travel light-speed we will be stuck with focusing on a planet within reach...and the moon wouldn't be the top choice.

Mike Robinson   July 15th, 2009 1:32 pm ET

If that's how they spend 100 billion tax dollors it shows you how short sighted they really are, if they abandon it in 2015, if they can't see past the space station what good are they. they should stick the space station up there Nasa.

CJ   July 15th, 2009 1:32 pm ET

I believe that the ISS is a fundamental investment in the future of US space exploration, and should not be scraped so capriciously. Indeed, without the shuttle program, it will not be able to be easily maintained, but that does not mean we should destroy it.

100 billion dollars- if we are so fluid with that kind of transactions, why is Congress absconding plans that would benefit our wellbeing here on Earth?

Besides it could be used for other purposes, such as a docking station for the next generation of teh space shuttle program.

mitchel   July 15th, 2009 1:32 pm ET

I'm not exactly sure if the U.S. has the final say in what happens to the ISS. After all, several other countries have stake in the "space lab" so I'm sure resistance from Russia, Japan, Germany, and the other contributors will come so as long their interests lie against those of the U.S. With that said, despite the ISS costing $100B, the U.S. did not fit all of the bill. Please remember that.

george from alaska   July 15th, 2009 1:36 pm ET

...folks have always tried to get rid of the space program. it's part of the entrophy of our culture to try and destroy our best hope for the future and replace it with ignorance & mediocrity.

pompousmaximus   July 15th, 2009 1:37 pm ET

Has NASA lost their minds? This has to be some sort of tactic by NASA to shed light on the fact that the space station needs future financial support. I can't imagine any sane person allowing the ISS to de-orbit.....Perhaps Google could buy it?

hctim621   July 15th, 2009 1:40 pm ET

To Mike...
Many of us writing in this blog know that it's a ploy. What the majority of us are saying is that they NEED to be given funding and we are voicing our support for ALL space exploration.

Paul   July 15th, 2009 1:41 pm ET

The space station never made any sense. It will not produce, nor could it have produced, much valuable science at all (despite self-serving claims to the contrary from NASA and space industry boosters). It will not serve as a stepping stone to anywhere. It was pork, pure and simple. We would be best served if it were shut down immediately; failing that, we would be best served if it were shut down sooner rather than later.

Scott   July 15th, 2009 1:42 pm ET

We have a space station?

Mel Harris   July 15th, 2009 1:43 pm ET

This sounds so idiotic that it has to be an internet hoax. But on the other hand, one should never underestimate what levels of uinderacheivement politicians can reach.

But if it is true it is a waste not just of the dollars, but I think you need to add the extremely high cost in human lives, as well as the shuttle losses. The two programs were inter-linked. I'd really hate to think that 14 highly trained personnel lost their lives for nothing.

Last note, if de-rbiting is in fact really the plan – lease/sell it to Canada. Our personnel are very well acquainted with it. All we need are the rides to get there.

Warren22   July 15th, 2009 1:44 pm ET

We've put a lot of money into the ISS, but so have other countries. It doesn't belong to NASA. That's the first thing we must realize. Secondly, the Shuttle will be replaced by someone else's vehicle. Last, this probably is a NASA scare tactic, as someone has already mentioned.

charlie   July 15th, 2009 1:50 pm ET

Hey everyone – you need to remember that the International Space Station does not belong solely to the United States. It's called the INTERNATIONAL Space Station. More than half a dozen countries built, paid for and sent the various parts into space. This is international space and one country cannot decide to destroy it (unless you want more unilateral action like you've seen from the previous president).

vine   July 15th, 2009 1:55 pm ET

This is one expensive hobby. We will never and I mean never have the same capabilities as the movie " Star Trek". The Space Shuttle stay's in orbit. And if you think NASA went to the moon...were talking 250,000 miles away at a time this Country needed some uplifting with the war, low confidence in the Governemt. Remember this was 1969. Citizens were finding the war was unnecessary as with Iraq. I promise you one thing, if
NASA went in 1969 they would go now. The footage was State ran...Look at Iran or China when the State runs the show. The Internet is blocked in many areas. Lets not be too naive.

Jim NC   July 15th, 2009 1:59 pm ET

Is this Guy on CRACK? (Michael T. Suffredini) I really don't think he has the authority to DESTROY the "INTERNATIONAL" Space station!

If the US (People) decide they no longer want to fund the project then fine but destroy it? What an idiot...

He's probably paying lip service for more funding (Scare Tactic)

He has a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin… WOW! And he’s the manager of the ISS??? What fool thought this guy was qualified to run the ISS???

Brainless NASA?   July 15th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

Is NASA really so brainless it can't figure out an alternative? Park it, lease it, send it into lunar orbit for use there, or .... Or is NASA so immoral it's just trying to trick people into demanding to fund its continuance? Whoever is behind this nonsense should be fired!

Walt   July 15th, 2009 2:04 pm ET

how about selling it off to a private company? space will soon be a tourist spot... and it seems like a waste of 100billion to just deorbit it!

Graham Garner   July 15th, 2009 2:04 pm ET

I cannot believe that NASA would contemplate ever abandoning the ISS after such an extended and extensive effort to build, orbit and maintain such a unique scientific and observation platform.

Surely there must be some way to ensure it's survival and longevity for many decades to come.

We all must know that the ISS is irreplaceable and once lost to a deathly plunge into the atmosphere will never be ressurected again in any forseeable future.

When I stand outside and watch it pass overhead flying quickly across the night sky, just a bright pinhead of light in the blackness of space I am both excited and inspired to witness such a unique spectical and I simply marvel at what I see.

It would indeed be a mournful day if this bastion of technological triumphant achivement were to pass away through fiscal neglect or lack of popular public appeal.

We need to think differently about such matters for just once ....

Ophiuchus   July 15th, 2009 2:05 pm ET

I am a huge fan of the science we get from NASA. Having said that; in regards to this article...


Human exploration of space is a tremendous waste of money these days. NASA is doing the right thing here by de-orbitting ISS and retiring the space shuttle. The immediate future of space exploration is robotic. It is much cheaper, they can go further and can do the science much faster and no one cares much if the thing blows up. Because funds to NASA are limited it makes more sense for them to scrap costly manned missions and focus on cheaper, more scientifically effective, robotic missions.

Drew Easton   July 15th, 2009 2:06 pm ET

Why did we build it if we are NOT planning on using it as LONG as possible?
The people who thought this up should have thought about that then.
Even though it took much longer to finish than planned (Welcome to REAL life) it does NOT mean that it should be junked just as it is getting finished.
The Government must know what it costs to operate thing they have been doing it long enough and have enough stuff to experiement with.
Space research is the MOST expensive yet, but the ISS should NOT just be dumped.

John Galloway   July 15th, 2009 2:07 pm ET

We should not de-orbit the station as keeping it in orbit, even if unoccupied is vastly cheaper then putting it up there. We should NOT be planning on sending humans to the moon or to mars as its way way too expensive and instead focus on robotic missions. Once our robotic technology is advanced enough to remotely prepare bases for human habitation (say 50 years from now) then we can consider moving in. In the meantime we will need an environment to develop the technology to keep humans alive and productive in space and that is where the ISS comes in. What NASA is proposing is exactly backwards.

Hm...   July 15th, 2009 2:08 pm ET

We have more important things to worry about, quite frankly. I think it's about time we (hopefully) divert all that money somewhere where it is currently needed, desperately. Space isn't going anywhere. The global economy is, and not in pleasant direction.

auximenes   July 15th, 2009 2:13 pm ET

Not continuing to support the ISS would be a colossal mistake. It would be like letting the Statue of Liberty fall into the sea.

Da Professor   July 15th, 2009 2:14 pm ET

I suspect that most people responding to this question ... Junk or not to junk the space station .... do so based on the cost of the thing and not on any factual intelligence.

You sometimes wonder if those who ask questions really want an intelligent answer? Or, do they prefer to just stir up a tad of controversy?

Chris   July 15th, 2009 2:17 pm ET

Eh why not burn up 100 Billion dollars....Obama has nearly burned up 2+ TRILLION in the past 5 months.............change....anybody have any change!!!!!

Let's get our $$$'s worth out of everything we can!!!

Mel   July 15th, 2009 2:18 pm ET

It would have been far better and much more in continuity with our previous efforts to have put a form of this station in orbit around the moon and used it to support a permanent base on the surface. There is nothing they can do in earth orbit that hasn't been done about a thousand times already when there is still useful work to be done on the moon. We only barely got there as a product of Cold War competition. Such a base supported by an orbital station like this one would make a base there actually more accessible than our base in Antarctica is in the winter there.

Michel   July 15th, 2009 2:18 pm ET

Brilliant ! In the late 60's, NASA built a shuttle with nowhere to go. Once they had to get out of the satellite launching business with it, they came up with the space Station as a a way to keep it alive. Now, 40 years later, NASA's building the kind of spacecraft they should have built in the first place, but still a ship with nowhere to go ! The Russians, who with Soyuz built the 'right kind' of spacecraft, must be laughing their heads off !

Robert   July 15th, 2009 2:23 pm ET

Ya gotta be freakin' kidding me. No way they are gonna drop this thing after over a decade of carrying it up piece by piece. If for no other reason than it's a safe haven in case of orbit accident, they should keep it up.

Ivan   July 15th, 2009 2:26 pm ET

Who are "geniuses" who want to surrender ?

The same moronic "intellectuals" who killed the
Apollo-era achievements ?

Martin   July 15th, 2009 2:31 pm ET

I can't believe that they would just let it de-orbit and burn up in our atmosphere . . . I can understand the costs associated with maintaining an old Space Station but there has to be something else they (meaning NASA) can do to still generate revenue from this station. I mean come on people this the bottom line . . . MONEY . . . I was opposed to building the d##n thing in the first place and would've like to see a Moon Base of some sort.

Maybe we should abandon NASA and start a whole new program that is ran privately!

Tim Williams   July 15th, 2009 2:31 pm ET

As an avid follower of space exploration for over 20 years, we've always longed and waited for the International Space Station to be finished. Now that it is finally becoming a reality, it would be ridiculous to just throw it away. Instead, its now finally time to put it through it paces and do the science it was intended to perform. The investment has been paid, now the usage comes. You don't build a house then burn it down because you are moving. You either make it work for you or give (sell) it to someone else. I'd rather see China take it off our hands, then see it deorbited. Shhesh!

Irene, TX   July 15th, 2009 2:31 pm ET

Guys, for those who talk about moon station and Delta etc. rockets – it is not that simple. It can not be turned into a stationary object. Currently the ISS has ONLY Russian jets to maintain the orbit, ONLY Russian supply vehicles and ONLY Russian rescue vehicles – 3 things mandatory for any space station. It can not exist without any one of the above, especially the rescue ship – something that has to be permanently docked to the station in case of some catastrophic emergency. It's a space lifeboat, totally separate from any other shuttle type vehicles. This is for the crew to drop everything, escape into that ship and undock to save their lives at any moment. It just hangs in there untouched yet always ready. The US X38 rescue ship program was killed several years ago for budget reasons, and not every rocket can deliver people or be sent and/or docked to a manned spacecraft, Shuttle is becoming obsolete and most spares are no longer manufactured. Too late to revitalize long-lead superexpensive part currently the US has nothing even close to replace all 3 in the nearest and even not so nearest future. In other words. the US can not handle this station by itself in the next decade or so, there are no readily available technologies To be fair, no other partner can, even the Russians because the US modules also carry lots of vitally important stuff like giant solar arrays and excellent and almost uninterrupted communications coverage, and tons of other systems critical for station life and work. This is a truly INTERNATIONAL station and it will be an international decision. Too bad we ended up where we are now...

Johnny Bumps   July 15th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

Deep six it. A bad idea from the beginning.

george scaglione   July 15th, 2009 2:34 pm ET

after all the money effort and danger to astronauts that has been expended to put it up in space it would be the height of foolishness to waste it all in only a short 7 years!!!! this is the kind of "planning" that is putting nasa firmly in second and hopefully not third place! read a comment by one guy who said "who cares"- repectfully sir,you are a j*rk. people who think like that should not be taking up space no pun intended on a blog like this! thanks to 99.9% of you your friend george

KDH   July 15th, 2009 2:36 pm ET

The station partners are in negotiations to extend the use of the station until 2020 or longer. This person had to have been misquoted. Also, building and launching the space shuttle to the station have been the most expensive parts of the program. Once the shuttle is gone, the station is completed and we have a cheaper way there, the savings will be huge.

fPH   July 15th, 2009 2:38 pm ET

If the space station is so important or even useful, there would be no thought of trashing it by NASA themselves – this is NASA's crafty way of getting more money. If someone from NASA is suggesting to junk it, listen to them and let this be a lesson to all the people who promoted it's existence and helped ask for money to pay for it – NOW IT'S LIKE OWNING A PINTO (car) or GREMLIN. *for all the Pinto & Gremlin lovers out there, sorry*

If they do end up trashing the space station, don't let NASA have any more money for future space stations ANYWHERE. Have NASA "scientists" concentrate ALL their efforts on making this place, EARTH, a better place – THEY OWE US BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF INFORMATION – WHAT ALL HAVE WE LEARNED FROM THE SPACE STATION ANYWAY? WAS IT WORTH BILLIONS OF DOLLARS? Did we really need to know how spider webs look in space?


The thought of colonization on the Moon or Mars is just plain stupid and the space station would only get in the way for those projects anyway! Forget about it!

Warren   July 15th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

Let it burn up.

BWS   July 15th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

Why not give it to the homeless?

AL   July 15th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

The advances in technology are, by far, the greatest achievement humans can brag about. They are supposed to ease our lives, cure our illnesses and overall advance our human race.

The dumping or de-orbiting ( fancy word ) of the space station should be a big deal to the whole world. Many lives have been sacrificed at the cost of this enterprise not to mention countries tax dollars from hard working people have been allocated to this project on the promise that it will advance the human race; a legacy to future generations. Moneys that come from all sources, even from countries that are not as "powerful" as America.

For a country that stresses to its citizens the values of recycling, renewal energy, solar power and others, the dumping of this structure without trying to have alternate uses for it, is irresponsible. If the matter is high maintenance cost, they should've also anticipate it and create a maintenance program. But then again, we have the money to do it, let's do it and ask questions later. Can you remember Hubble?

I have been a big fan of space exploration all my life.I have seen the first space walk, the first moon landing, Hubble and the Discovery tragedy, and now I get to see the most expensive trip to the dumpster ever!

Way to go NASA.

charlie   July 15th, 2009 2:40 pm ET

A lot of people seem upset by the money spent (or "wasted") on the ISS.

Just try and keep some perspective: That $100 billion price tag is split up among several other countries. But even if it were all the US, that's still approx. $9.1 billion over the last 11 years.

The US spent approx. $1 trillion dollars in 2009 on defense-related purposes, or more than 100x the average annual cost of the space station. (Also note the annual NASA budget is currently only $17 billion) And if you think the military isn't worse about how it spends its money than NASA, you're wrong.

So really, don't complain about wasting taxpayer's dollars on this.

Brent, Calgary, AB   July 15th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

To all my American cousins, your country is in decline and this is one of the reasons why. Add the mounting debt, the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to China and India, a large percentage of the population who believe that the world is only 6,000 years old and the Bible should be taken literally, the decline in your education system, reality TV, a collapsing economy and endless wars in places you shouldn’t be and you get a declining empire! I really thought Obama might be the change the good old USA needed but I’m afraid not! Is there is a script written somewhere by the corporate elite that says profits today are worth more than science, the environment and a truly sustainable economy? I will bet that in another 25 years the USA will be a country where the majority will be Wal-Mart greeters all living in a lower middle class economy indebt up to their ears, believing that real entertainment is “reality” TV and that it really is real! Its influence diminished to the point where no one will listen to them anymore. China will be on the Moon and headed towards Mars. China and India will be the worlds driving economy. It’s sad, but I believe inevitable and it can all be blamed on greed. Junking the Space Station is just one more step on the road to this decline. Live up to the ideals of your founding fathers and not the greed of Wall Street and the lame ideologies of the religious right!

Alan   July 15th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

De-orbiting the ISS only a few years after it's finished makes absolutely no sense. Only now is the station able to produce the real science for which it was built. We need a robust space program that can support an orbital outpost and reach for the Moon at the same time. The current plan only makes sense in the context of irresponsible decisions made by the prior administration. It is up to the Obama Administration to correct that and put the space program back on course.

Mel   July 15th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

This hiatus after the Shuttle is retired will be the second time we have had to go through a period of hitching rides on the Russian Soyuz, a ship that has been flying, with modifications, since 1967! If that's not an argument for continuity in space objectives, I don't know what is. If we had stuck with the Apollo era hardware and updated it, kept the Saturn V operational (which could lift 5 times the maximum Shuttle payload into low earth orbit and never had a serious failure) and kept the lunar program going with perhaps less frequent trips, we would be far ahead of where we are now but around 1968 some bigwigs at NASA saw 2001: A Space Odyssey and went nuts over something that's half airplane and half spaceship. Bad idea on steroids.

John Steinbeck   July 15th, 2009 2:46 pm ET

I believe that the International Space Station should be kept as a symbol of our achievement in being one of the first nations to explore space and the first to send people onto the moon , if they scrap it then $100 billion dollars and our future in space will be wasted.

mark silvers   July 15th, 2009 2:51 pm ET

Planned obsolence. What else can we as taxpayers pour our money into and get little return (think GM, AIG)

Rick Chapman   July 15th, 2009 2:51 pm ET

As an alternative, explore the feasibility of repositioning or towing the ISS to a lunar orbit using the shuttle. A lunar lander with rover could be carried up on shuttle flights to support lunar landings and exploration – base configuration. Russian and European craft would need to possess the ability to reach the ISS in lunar orbit. If this is determined to be feasibility, a couple more shuttles may be required to meet the workload requirements in conjunction with this interim solution.

KP   July 15th, 2009 2:51 pm ET

If they don't want it I'll take it ! Please just don't burn it up !

Andrew   July 15th, 2009 2:52 pm ET

Sell the thing to China and reduce our trade defict.

Tom   July 15th, 2009 2:55 pm ET

Why spend all that time and money to put the thing together and then have it de-orbit so soon after completion? We need this kind of research in the future.

David Buchner   July 15th, 2009 2:56 pm ET

We should keep using it. We need more money for space.

Failing that due to political crap, we should give the US modules to the international partners. Possibly in exchange for free access for US astronauts?

dgs3   July 15th, 2009 2:59 pm ET

Then why not shut it down now. Why waste any more money between now and then? Or just give full control of it to all the other space agencies, Russia, Europe, and Japan and let them handle everything instead of dumping it in the ocean. Maybe China will take it.

PJ   July 15th, 2009 3:01 pm ET

The ISS is a giant hole that cash was dumped into (along with the space shuttle) when NASA decided post apollo to use the Space shuttle/space station system as the next stage in space exploration rather than pushing onward with a Moon base in the late 70's and astronauts on Mars by the 80's. Its been more than 30 years since a human left low earth orbit and since then the space program has wasted all the (formally) available funding AND all public interest! People don't care about space anymore and that is NASAs fault for not pushing harder for fewer but more complex missions. Now that all of that funding and public will is gone they are talking about trashing the ISS already? And this %$#^ about retiring the space shuttle and having to rely on the goodwill of the #$%# RUSSIANS to get to OUR spacestation? They are using soyez capsules from 30 years ago, we might as well just break out the old equipment and build apollo capsules again, they are 1969 technology that got us to the MOON (a feat the russians never achieved) just slap modern avionics in them and BAM we have a reusable cheap spacecraft with an excellent safety record (better than soyez) on the cheap that is 100% not only capable of reaching lunar orbit but already has has been there and done that.
My point is that JFK pointed NASA towards the moon in 1961 and said thats your goal, and only 8 years later we had humans exploring the surface of a another planet. NOW the president point us towards the moon again and NASA says well we'll need about 15 years to get BACK there (remember 1969 tech got us there and back safely with ZERO in flight casualties and one scrubbed moon landing, better than the space shuttle) and another 15 years to get to Mars when NASA had plans to use surplus apollo equipment to have americans on Mars by the 1980's. The space shuttle and ISS were a mistake (I will agree that they have made huge contributions to science and mankind) but that mistake is done and over and they might as well get as much use out of them as they can, while they can. They shuttle has excellent heavy lift capability and the ISS would be an excellent staging point for another Moon or even Mars shot. Getting humans on Mars will be THE crowing achievement of our generation and will propel the human race to the next level of not being locked on earth anymore. If the public would just (we do it not because it is easy but because it is hard) give the support it could be done within the decade. There my giant rant about the space program is over.

jamie   July 15th, 2009 3:02 pm ET

Exploration and settlement historically have fits and false starts. Ever think that maybe we are more like the odd viking longship that columbus or even the settlers in jamestown? Plus, beancounters in washington or moscow are probably not the best ones to commit to real exploring. How about, "there is gold on the moon", or something equivalent. Let's all figure a way out there. Peace my friends.

F, Wood   July 15th, 2009 3:03 pm ET

Great! I sit here wondering how to feed my family and get on with a normal life while I read that $100 billion dollars got thrown away. I wonder how many families that would feed?

Paul Hickling   July 15th, 2009 3:05 pm ET

Letting the space station de-orbit? What a terrible mistake! The United States must maintain its leadership in the area of space exploration. The technological advances that have resulted from our space program are enormous. I think we should maintain the shuttle fleet until the replacement has arrived and ensure the space station is kept functioning. If the space station is not seen as viable what is the proposed replacement? We must look at the long view– vibrant space programs take years of planning and investment. Knee-jerk decisions are always a bad idea! If NASA in the late 60s could see us today they would have been very disappointed by our lack of progress!

JEL   July 15th, 2009 3:05 pm ET

100 billion... divided by 15 = basically 7 billion per year plus op´s cost.
I mean I hear about exciting experiments ... tech break throughs, and just the enormity of actually floating a small building above our heads.
Does it wear out due to use at that time? I like the idea of filling it up with mementos of our existence, then crashing it on the moon... if we cant use it... Maybe what ever comes after us will find it and see we tried to reach out further than our own planet. The pyramids lasted what 12 thousand years.... Is everything we make disposable.

Tom Tac   July 15th, 2009 3:09 pm ET

What do the Russians (and other partners) say about this? The Space Station's role, as far as the USA was concerned, was partly a State Department foreign policy thing.

JS   July 15th, 2009 3:09 pm ET

Like Always, They have their heads where the sun don't shine,No wonder things are turning for the worse. Acually I think it is a big waste from day one.

Demosthenes   July 15th, 2009 3:09 pm ET

This is old news. By law, NASA needs to plan for the end of ISS. ISS will not be obsolete in 2016, but that is where the current funding bill ends. This is a Congress / Budget issue.

Please check out NASASPACEFLIGHT.COM. This has been discussed over the past few years on their forums.

Anthony   July 15th, 2009 3:11 pm ET

I see where he is coming from about how the ISS can really suck the money out of the NASA budget, but I still think the ISS is a valuable resource that can be used. Perhaps even be the jumping off point if we want to assemble a large spacecraft for interplanetary travel. It would make sense to assemble it up there than to try and launch it from earth.

Erik   July 15th, 2009 3:12 pm ET

That project was flawed from the start, but we've already paid for the thing, might as well use it!

Chris   July 15th, 2009 3:15 pm ET

We should sell it to another country, no need for 100 billion dollars to go to waste.

ISS Employee   July 15th, 2009 3:16 pm ET

Its really not that shocking they say they would bring it down in 2015. That would mean parts of it were 20 years old. Its doesn't change what they do up there between now and then (or what they have done).

if its safe and viable, I don't see how you could justify keeping it up there. Its a helluva alot cheaper to maintain it...than to build something else. But their reliability models may be telling them bad stuff could start happening after 2015. If that's the case, they need to stop sending people up there or they may see another accident.

James   July 15th, 2009 3:16 pm ET

If NASA could not afford to keep it operational, just sell it to the highest bidder in the private sector instead of de-orbiting it. Private companies will be able to keep it operational and make it turn profits, while the station could continue to be our stepping stone for space exploration.

De-orbiting the station because we had to count on rides from Russia is a dumb arguement.

jake haap   July 15th, 2009 3:18 pm ET

Sell the station to other countries like China, India, Japan etc and use the money obtained and saved to really get a Lunar and Mars manned program going. Also begin developing a mode of transportation to the outer planets. It's time to leave the nest......

political stunt   July 15th, 2009 3:19 pm ET

This is a political stunt. NASA is going to extreme and utilizing the media. End goal is to develop a new launch system constituency. Using the ISS to promote launch systems and vice versa has been done before.

Jon   July 15th, 2009 3:22 pm ET

Does it really matter if the space station is taken down? The new discoveries are being made light years away. Zero gravity is cool, but there are no big mysteries there any more.

Joe   July 15th, 2009 3:23 pm ET

Imagine that you've flushed $100 billion down the toilet. Then you have two choices – continue to flush $10 billion a year more down the toilet so you tell yourself the first $100 billion wasn't wasted. Or admit your mistake.

Looks like NASA is ready to admit their mistake – at least on the completely useless space station

Mike   July 15th, 2009 3:24 pm ET

I agree with others that say we should keep the station and possibly use it on the surface of the moon. It would be a shame to destroy it.

Rusty   July 15th, 2009 3:26 pm ET

How about having the Space Station orbit the moon?

J   July 15th, 2009 3:29 pm ET

No problem with this at all. Project Finance 101: SUNK COSTS SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED. Is the ongoing value of the space station more than the ongoing cost to maintain / visit post 2016.

Tom Ross   July 15th, 2009 3:32 pm ET

If we have learned all the sience that is possible, dump it.
Otherwise support it, period.

Joe   July 15th, 2009 3:32 pm ET

NASA's biggest accomplishments over the last couple decades – the Mars rovers, the Hubble Telescope – cost a fraction of what the Space Shuttle program and the ISS cost. Imagine what they could have done if they hadn't wasted so much money on these white elephants.

MTB   July 15th, 2009 3:32 pm ET

Why is the fate of a 'multi-national' space station being decided by only one nation? How do the other countries involved feel about this? If NASA keeps this up, more private sectors will easily surpass human exploration of space.....maybe this is what they need.

Gary   July 15th, 2009 3:32 pm ET

Well, if this is the best NASA can devise after spendign $100 Billion to build this, then it is time NASA was junked.
Pay private enterprises to build and operate a space exploration fleet.

NASA ceased being cutting edge shortly after the first manned shuttle flight. Mismanagement, poor management or lack of management responsibility have hamstrunbg this agency for 30 years!

If anything is FUBAR it is NASA! If ths ISS is 'junked' then abolish NASA!

knp   July 15th, 2009 3:33 pm ET

Why not use the station on the moon for the permanent base? Agree with "Shane H"'s comments above..

Tom   July 15th, 2009 3:33 pm ET

Typical political reasoning: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) argues, “If we’ve spent a hundred billion dollars, I don’t think we want to shut it down in 2015.”

In otherwords, "we made a huge mistake spending billions of dollars, let's spend some more money so the first mistake doesn't look so bad".

WD   July 15th, 2009 3:38 pm ET

Here is my question: Doesn't the "I" in ISS stand for International? And wasn't the whole thing built with a whole lot of international resources and components as well? So why is it only the US and NASA who decides on the fate of the whole thing? Anyone?

Brett   July 15th, 2009 3:39 pm ET

As a Doctor, biology major, and environmentalist, I would love to support this station, but the fact is, we have a lot of problems right here at home, clean water, clean air, education, feeding our exploding population. Unfortunately our money is a finite resource, it needs to be spent here.

berry   July 15th, 2009 3:40 pm ET

Convert it to a spaceship shipyard, and build spaceship there.

Kevin Spoering   July 15th, 2009 3:43 pm ET

I have been a NASA follower for about 40 years, and I agree, just someone foaming at the mouth with no real power to make this decision. Fully I suspect the ISS will be in orbit and in use even in the 2020's. That said, I believe the Ares1 and Ares 5 rockets will be a tremendous boost for the space agency, getting out of earth orbit, to the moon and eventually to Mars and beyond. The peak in global oil production which very likely is already behind us will make progress in future years more problematic, however. If any of you want to see the ISS from your location see the web site

Kevin Spoering

Peter Walukiewicz   July 15th, 2009 3:46 pm ET

If we scrap the International Space station, then there is no reason to go back to the moon, either. I say let's keep the station in orbit, otherwise we might as well close up NASA as well.

JVR   July 15th, 2009 3:47 pm ET

Send this thing to the moon. A well planned in line set of boosters along with reaction jets for stability and you either put it into orbit over the lunar surface or in a Lagrange point (L3 maybe?). Why waste the billions of dollars rather than build onto it? We need staging locations and stable platforms for lunar operations. Here it is. Its only three days away and would allow much better orbital studies of the lunar surface. Only a nickel and dime penny pinching bureaucrat would take the bean-counter approach and just throw this away. We need to learn how to work and live in space and before we go to Mars we better use the natural laboratory that the moon provides or future manned space operations will just be tragic accidents waiting to happen. Is ANYONE at NASA trained in project management? The folks at Disney have a better space plan than these government civil servant types.

jon   July 15th, 2009 3:48 pm ET

This is RIDICULOUS! The Space Station is one of the biggest investments the United States has ever been a part of. Its a symbol of the progress of mankind and a sign that different countries to come together for a common goal. The idea that they would dump it in the ocean after only 18 years is inconceivable.

fred   July 15th, 2009 3:49 pm ET

The only real purpose of the station has been engineering, to prove that complex, multi-component assembly can be done in orbit. Once the job is done, then what? You keep on spending money to keep on going in circles. The core of the station has already been in orbit for more than a decade. At some point in the near future, safety becomes an overriding issue. Yes, the Mars rovers and the Hubble exceeded their warranties, but they aren't manned. And the station isn't designed to be lifted out of earth orbit. Ultimately, it's cheaper to junk it, do science on the ground, and explore robotically. Some people pointed this out 20 years ago.

concerned man   July 15th, 2009 3:49 pm ET

Retired the space station? Maybe we should just retired NASA !

Douglas Hazen   July 15th, 2009 3:49 pm ET

Human space exploration is too expensive, too dangerous, and has an unreasoned cost to benefit ratio. Mechanical/robotic exploration is the way to go, until science can devise a safer way to maintain humans in space for protracted periods of time, and until technological advancements will allow transport of humans at close to light-speed. As for the space lab, are not most if not all experiments capable of being operated, observed and recorded by machines? Let's use our brains and have computers for now do the job of outer space discoveries.

carltown   July 15th, 2009 3:50 pm ET

Nuts to deorbiting it. Would somebody want to buy it? Any price would be better than throwing it away. I though the purpose was to use it as a launch platform eventually for trips to the moon and marr

Carl Scott   July 15th, 2009 3:50 pm ET

This makes me sad as I grew up watching the space program grow. From Gemini to Skylab it was exciting to watch us develop new technologies and use them.

Now, it seems like all America is interested in anymore is pushing paper and building a welfare state. If you do not have a strong science and exploration program you will not retain the brightest engineers and scientists. This proposal further erodes our standing as a country that is on the cutting edge of exploration.

I wonder what America will look like in 20 years without strong space program?

Jeff   July 15th, 2009 3:52 pm ET

This is one of many reason I hate paying taxes. The F-22 can't fly in rain and now this. What are we going to do when the money runs out? Just pull the plug on the Shuttle now. Maybe we make up some of the tax payers money by selling hotdog from it on the beach.

Tony   July 15th, 2009 3:53 pm ET

How many more people who don't understand anything about space flight are going to post saying "send it to the moon, send it to Mars, etc"? This kind of ignorance about the physics of space flight and BASIC reality is a perfect example of why we should be promoting space and science education, not trashing our past efforts because a budgetary drop in the bucket can't be spared for the biggest space program in the world.

DM   July 15th, 2009 3:54 pm ET

Suffredini may be the ISS Program mgr, but he does not speak for many (MANY) others in NASA. Ditching the station in 2016 after all these years (and dollars) is ludicrous. That would be a colossal waste of resources and a huge loss to science – to say nothing of making the last 10+ years of effort to build the thing look like a complete waste of time. If we're going to deorbit it in 2016, why not just stop assembly now? Why waste the time & risk of more Shuttle launches to "finish" it? Take that money and FIX Constellation.

ahha   July 15th, 2009 3:56 pm ET

Well why don't we fund the space effort to the tune of the bank effort. $800B+ should be enough to keep it in orbit.

Shawn   July 15th, 2009 3:56 pm ET

Like anything else it should be view in terms of what it costs right now going forward. How much it has cost up to this point is irrelevant. Do we want a spacestation for the cost of the maintenance? If the answer is yes, then we keep it around. If the answer is no, then we let it burn up.

Ralph   July 15th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

It's exactly this type of thinking that makes NASA look foolish to the public, while wasting billions of taxpayer dollars. In the early 70's they scrapped the Apollo moon technology in favor of the shuttle. Now they're going back to the this technology as a basis for the Constellation program!

Brian   July 15th, 2009 4:00 pm ET

What's $100 billion these days? Don't worry, we'll print more.

Shawn   July 15th, 2009 4:02 pm ET

The space station is not the same thing as a moon base. The is "some" gravity on the moon vs. complete weightlessness. Any experments that require 0 gravity most likely wouldn't be good for the moon.

Jon   July 15th, 2009 4:03 pm ET

Sigh. This is exactly why I had problems with the whole "no more space shuttles" / "no more reusable space vehicles" thing. I thought we were talking about the ISS as a permanent human foothold in space. That's the kind of effort we need to keep up – not just for ourselves, but for the whole world.

ATL   July 15th, 2009 4:09 pm ET

Space hotel....Rent it out and get some money back.

Jackstraw6   July 15th, 2009 4:10 pm ET

maybe we can sell it to the private sector. they can continue doing scientific research and selling space vacations to wealthy tourists.

Jamie   July 15th, 2009 4:13 pm ET

It would be the Greatest travesty of the entire human space program to allow this occur! We NEED a permenant presence in space and no one knows what kinds of advances would come out of research on the ISS in the future. Just more short sightedness by people rooted in old ways of thinking.

Stew Reep   July 15th, 2009 4:13 pm ET

This is outrageous.

Not only have they change their minds on the Constellation program days before the first actual launch tests, and left NASA without an operation crew/cargo vehicle capable of providing service to the ISS, they're planning on intentionally destroying the most advancely assembled human technology currently in space, and a frontier for scientific research (science is what makes life so easy for us today, IMPORTANT!!). They're not even saying, "We'll let it run as long as it can?" They'd really rather destroy it themselves? It alone is a human milestone, and a sign of what we've achieved as we are nothing more than a species on this planet. How can anyone looking to the future accept this outcome? There must be a way to stop this from happening.

On the other side, I am a well-aware American who knows we're in the depth of a recession and have to make budget cuts, and from the business aspect of the space program, to say it nicely, it doesn't give much profit back compared to the cost.

I wish the parties involved on this issue would have faith that our country can economically bounce back, and see that we have the power to do so. If we fail to show that we have confidence with what we've set out to do, it would be a terrible reputation for our country, and a great loss to the entire world's scientific community.

ben   July 15th, 2009 4:14 pm ET

Astounding. The lack of strategic planning is astounding. Did'nt we extend the life of the shuttles in part so we could keep our committment to the ISS? Why deorbit the thing? Just let it fly. It's creation was expensive, buts it's mere existence less so. Maybe 10-20 years from now, we'll have a solution on how to get there. And Nasa wants to return to the moon (for what?) and go to mars (for what?) Perhaps we can mothball NASA, and put the guys to work on something useful like alternative energy solutions. Tell them when have they solve that one, for the benefit all all of humanity, they can have their toys back.

Tony in Texas   July 15th, 2009 4:14 pm ET

I don't think we can unilaterally deorbit the station. There are modules that belong to Japanese, Russian and the European space agencies. I think they might have a say on whether or not to junk the thing.

Maybe these countries would buy our share, but this would be another step backwards for our space program, which has been either backtracking or staying in place for decades.

Let's move forward, please!

Ben   July 15th, 2009 4:17 pm ET

NASA should sell the ISS to highest private side bidder. -This would privatize space more and allow NASA to remove the ISS from their books at the same time. -Presuming that the highest bidder was some sort of high-end hotel chain, they could refurb the station and offer it as an orbital hotel spot....

Carl W   July 15th, 2009 4:17 pm ET

Can we send the ISS to the moon, and use money from that program to build a Lofstrom Loop instead?

Press to Digitate   July 15th, 2009 4:21 pm ET

Millions of space advocates will unite against NASA if ISS is just "thrown away" in 2015, as planned. There will be a massive grassroots effort, among those most in favor of space exploration, development, and colonization to abolish NASA for its failure, and to free up those resources for the commercial space industry instead.

After wasting three Apollo missions (18,19, and 20 for which hardware was already built), losing Skylab, wasting the second Skylab cluster (for which hardware was already built), losing Mir, wasting billions on failed efforts for the National AeroSpace Plane, Delta Clipper, and VentureStar, and now ISS, NASA can no longer be entrusted with the human future in Space.

If NASA loses Space Station before it has something larger and more capable to replace it, that will be the end of any populat political support for the agency.

RM   July 15th, 2009 4:21 pm ET

Another $100B of our taxpayer money flushed down the drain with nothing to show for it. Good job abandoning the Shuttle Program now when there is no replacement. Bush and his cronies did a superb job in planning for our future!

Jan   July 15th, 2009 4:22 pm ET

Why on earth would anyone think of deorbiting the ISS? It is the INTERNATIONAL Space Station, not the AMERICAN Space Station. What ever happened to working together with other countries for the bettement of man? Just because George W. said it will be so doesn't mean it HAS to be!

Why can't the ISS be used as a jumping off point for other space travel? Why can't it be used for building bigger and better craft that will take us to far away places in this magnificent universe? Time to start thinking Star Trek and less Homebodies.

Grog in Ohio   July 15th, 2009 4:23 pm ET

The ISS has been a drag on the US space program for 10 years. Drop the thing and let's concentrate on habituating the moon and getting to Mars.

Greg   July 15th, 2009 4:23 pm ET

For too long the ISS has diverted resources away from more meaningful goals in space for NASA. It has made NASA focus too much energy on an unreliable space shuttle fleet whose sole purpose is to be a taxi cab to near earth orbit, when NASA should be focusing on true space exploration.

Instead of de-orbiting it, though, how about they turn it over/sell it to private space enterprises so that the "business" of space can begin. Only then will we see a more rapid development of man's use of space. Let's leave the truly great work worthy of NASA to them, namely deep space exploration and manned missions to other heavenly bodies. That is the focus if we truly want to advance in our understanding of our solar system and generate the wonder that so many felt about the Apollo program.

Wicapiwakan   July 15th, 2009 4:26 pm ET

The ISS was never intended to be used beyond 2025 due to the fact that it has always had a life expectancy of 15 to 30 years. Obviously, the 2016 date falls short of any other goal.

ISS, like other space exploration projects, is merely one tool. To really understand space, science, and research, everyone needs to look at the bigger picture.

jeff   July 15th, 2009 4:28 pm ET

Re: UMDTerrapin post on July 15th, 2009 12:01 pm ET. Excellent post UMD! I agree 100% with you about some of the posters here. They don't see anything more than a dollar amount being spent and not the 10 fold benefits the WORLD has seen from it! It's hard to read some of these because no matter what you say to try to justify something like this to those kinds of people they won't get it. They are to closed minded to think outside their world and how it really affects them(by reading and seeing what has actually come out of the space program). Either that or they are just not interested in it and because they're not, it doesn't work, costs too much, and is not needed. Either way a narrow-minded approach.

ROB ARTHUR   July 15th, 2009 4:29 pm ET


John Krout, Arlington VA   July 15th, 2009 4:34 pm ET

Here are some alternative fates:

1) Sell the US share of the ISS. Let China take it over. This is preposterous, I am sure NASA would hate that.

2) Where might the ISS be useful other than its current orbit? Would it be more useful orbiting the moon?

3) Build a crew transfer vehicle. Hey, we are doing that now. The Orion spacecraft and Ares 1 booster seem adequate. The Ares 5 booster will be capable of orbiting big payloads, such as lunar landers.

But the big question remains: what is the purpose, the utility of the ISS? Can it be modified to become more useful?

If its utility is well understood, and the limit is only US flights per year, can the US increase its flights per year?

I find it difficult to believe that the US plans for significant lunar exploration without use of a space station as a staging point. That was discussed in the early 1960s and discarded as an expensive and time-consuming intermediate step, a drag in the race to the moon. Well, now it exists so why not use it? Is its international character in effect a security risk?

I find it especially difficult to believe our international partners will allow their ISS investments to be thrown away.

Steve   July 15th, 2009 4:35 pm ET

What Are Our Other OPTIONS!!!???? Will it be cheaper to find another way in and out of space for more industrial uses? Or do we already have pulse jets and plasma rockets to get us to other parts of the galaxy? Why not turn it into a space doc for refueling only? SELL IT TO MOBILE! They got all our money... NEways

Do we know enough about outer space and if we can sustain life with the lack of gravity? And with all that money what new things have we’ve learned for 100 billion? Money buy answers and well what did we get?

P.S.? If you all are planning on putting an elevator going to space like Hitch hikers guide to the Galaxy, Wont that ground out our POSITIVLY charged atmosphere Like a pretty soap bubble?

Prof. Psi   July 15th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

They better keep it flying another twenty years PERIOD.

John McCathrin   July 15th, 2009 4:37 pm ET

Why not sent the station to the moon and use it as a base for further exploration, or move the orbit further into space and use it as a base for future exploration of mars.

E. Ham   July 15th, 2009 4:38 pm ET

Give it to China–by 2016 they will be the only ones with enough money to keep using it.   July 15th, 2009 4:39 pm ET

Push it into a higher orbit an connect it to the Hubble space telescope, and various weather and observation satellites that are already up there. Make it a way station, and starting point for future space exploration, space based rescue, and ship construction. Leave the space shuttle in orbit to tow it to its new location. The shuttle could be used to collect some of the larger space junk obselete satelites for salvage, recycling, and spare parts.

Steve   July 15th, 2009 4:42 pm ET

TOO: (concerned citizen ) Ending the project isn’t the worst thing, it would show that a time has come to create new bigger/ more efficient/ better lab, If you don’t remember from the movie Armageddon when they said that the lowest bitter created the shuttles they were not kidding in the smallest. The 50k toilet seat was just another name to allocate money elsewhere..... New is always better as long as the new design dose not have the previous FLAWS.
Evolution, Tech-Volution

Bill   July 15th, 2009 4:43 pm ET

Don't listen to all the hype. The station WILL NOT be deorbited in 2016! This is what is put out ahead of time, what budget will pay for. The Mars Rovers only had 90 days. Now, 5 years later, they're still going. The Space Station will be around for many more years to come. This is just the line being put out today. Some in the press are just running with it to create a stir. Don't believe everything you read.

Lewis   July 15th, 2009 4:47 pm ET

Keeping it up there costs money. Give them money. :)

Anthony   July 15th, 2009 4:48 pm ET

I really think we should keep the ISS in orbit, there is still allot of research that can be done on the ISS, and for the feature. We can have the ISS serve as a fuel Station if we do decide to go to Mars and beyond. As with the Shuttles can't we use the shuttle's to go from the moon base (if it gets built) to the ISS.

Gary Gilham   July 15th, 2009 4:49 pm ET

Tow it out to Mars and place it in a permanent orbit around the Red Planet! It may take years or decades, and some pioneering propulsion technology to get it there, but the requirement for a orbiting outpost of this scale around the planet must be met before a safe, practical human presence on the surface will be realistic.

Ramoth   July 15th, 2009 4:49 pm ET


For all those expressing angst over the fact that the ISS was "just completely" and now they're talking about scrapping it..

The ISS, in fact is NOT completed.

Space Shuttle Endeavour is/was supposed to be delivering another piece! A Japanese module that Japan spent years and years ti built for their contribution to the ISS project.

That module has been sitting in the back of Endeavour and waiting for over a month for a Lift Off so it can be delivered and installed!

So, no, the ISS is NOT completed yet; it is still being paid for, and yet... NOW, they're talking about scrapping it.

Now; how does that make you feel?

Prof. Psi   July 15th, 2009 4:51 pm ET

Mike is correct, funding ploy. Either fund planned Orion Crew and Service Module and Ares I, Ares V, Ares IV carrier rocket systems. Or ISS sits empty or de-orbit it. Well played NASA.

Kevin   July 15th, 2009 4:52 pm ET

Spacelab deja vu?

Chris - Noblesville, IN   July 15th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

It's easy to get too attached to the billions that were already spent on the space station program while forgetting that, at it's core, it was "the flower of 1998 space technology" and probably should be retired in favor of newer and better alternatives. Anyone with a computer or car realizes that, after while, no matter how you overhaul it, eventually it outlives it's purpose. Same could be (and should be) said about the existing orbiting station. The real question is whether or not the current/future congress would appropriate that amount of money, adjusted in today's dollars, for a newer solution if we wish to continue leading the space race.

John Galloway   July 15th, 2009 5:00 pm ET

To all those that suggest moving the ISS to a much higher orbit or the moon etc, this is just not feasible. The design does not allow for large scale thrust to be applied and doing so would simply tear it apart. Also note that the shuttle can only reach low orbit (ISS or Hubble). It might be possible to move the ISS by applying very small gentle thrust to multiple points over a very long period slowing altering its orbit, but even this is not planned for in its design and likely would be very expensive and has the further complication of not being able to reach it once it gets there without a new vehicle.

almac   July 15th, 2009 5:00 pm ET

with any luck, private industry will have developed an economical way to reach the space station. Since there won't be the need for massive structures going up, just passengers and consumables, a smaller vehicle will do just fine.

Brock G. - Pittsburgh, PA   July 15th, 2009 5:02 pm ET

I think it's important to dispell a few misunderstandings some people might be having.

1) "Send it to the moon"
As has been noted, this just isn't possible. There is no engine we could build with current or near future technology that would be able to move the station from low Earth orbit to lunar orbit in any reasonable time frame.

2) "Use it as a staging point for missions to the moon/other solar system destinations"
This has also been addressed. The orbit the station is in is rather highly tilted with respect to the "ecliptic", the plane that the orbits of the moon and other solar system bodies are in. It takes much more energy (provided by fuel) to travel from an orbit tilted with respect to the destination than from an orbit aligned to the target orbit. The ISS therefore isn't a very good staging point, either.

The only thing you can really do with the station as it stands is more science, and I am 100% in favor of that. I agree that this is probably the beginning of a public appeal for more funding to keep it going longer, and that will probably succeed, if the outcry here is any indicator. Of course, no one here can accurately predict what the economy of our nation will look like in 2016, or in any of the interim years, and whether we'll have the money to throw into something as "unimportant" as the space program.

Ladislav Nemec, CA   July 15th, 2009 5:07 pm ET

The whole International Space Station project was very dubious from the very beginning. As far as I know, no significant contribution to anything except, perhaps, putting together mechanical parts in outer space, was made there. I do not think that anything worth $100 B will ever happen there. OK, US and Russia showed that, in a unique situation, they can cooperate rather effectively.

But it sounds completely crazy to junk this thing shortly after it is completed (if it ever will be in the first place).

My suggestion is very simple: to stop completely manned space projects, concentrate on a smal number of robotic missions and wait till the global economy recovers significantly – perhaps in some 50 – 100 years from now (if ever). At this point all 'outer space faring' nations can say 'been there, done that'. Let's close this pioneering chapter of the space exploration spending some money hoping the Space Station will, after all, prove its usefulness. Let's junk it in 2026, not 2016.

No need to return to the Moon and Mars will be there hundred years from now. In the meantime we will find out whether global warming is going to be as bad as some predict and, more importantly, try to do something about it.

Planet Earth First. Space and terrestrial telescopes are fine, expensive but, at least, not risking human lives.

Robert W.   July 15th, 2009 5:07 pm ET

I think they should push it into a higher altered orbit and leave it there in case we need it as a life boat for troubled missions in the future. Granted the orbit may have to be altered to make it more useful but just trashing it seems a little nutty. I find it interesting though that we call it the ISS but without NASA it is over. Maybe it should have been called the Unites States guest space station.

Terry Ritchie   July 15th, 2009 5:08 pm ET

2016? What is NASA thinking? The space station was a joint effort between countries. Just because we won't have a shuttle to get there does not mean there is no purpose for the station. Russia has an excellent space program that is very capable of ferrying astronauts to and from the station for many years beyond 2016. If NASA goes through with scuttling the station in 2016 then NASA is a waste of taxpayer time and money and it's time for private industry to take over where NASA had failed.

Angel   July 15th, 2009 5:09 pm ET

wow...another step backwards in space exploration if they bring down the space station. That would probably be the final blow to NASA and all bets go to the private sector to finish what NASA started. It's sad though, so much progress only to turn around into the past again. Space exploration will end up being our only hope in the future, so we should start investing in it now.

Chris   July 15th, 2009 5:10 pm ET

De-orbiting the ISS only 5 or 6 years after completing it is the most moronic thing in the world! That's like building a skyscraper and as soon as you lease all the floors to tenants, you decide to tear down the building!! If the U.S. isn't willing to use it for some stupid reason, then at least rent it out to other governments or private corporations.

TimP   July 15th, 2009 5:15 pm ET

If NASA does that, I'll be sending them an invoice requesting they refund my hard earned tax money. NASA is out of touch with reality.

Ivan   July 15th, 2009 5:16 pm ET

Are they out of their minds??? Yeah let's spend all that money just to watch it burn up in the atmosphere. Or better yet like Congress does on its pet projects. Space exploration cannot be stopped. What happened to the Shuttle replacement? Why are people being put in charge of NASA who have no intention of continuing what has been done up till now. Are they there just for NASA's destruction?? That is what is coming across to everyone. President Kennedy directed NASA to put a man into space and they did it. What is President Obama directing NASA to do???? Just disappear?

Mike Proctor   July 15th, 2009 5:16 pm ET

Junking the ISS would be the most foolish thing O'Bama could do among every other fatuous decision he has already made!

James   July 15th, 2009 5:18 pm ET

First, we built Skylab – then let it crash back to Earth.
Then MIR was built – then was allowed to crash back to Earth
Now they want to do the same thing to the ISS? Does anyone realize just how HUGE that thing has gotten over the years? Does anyone at NASA have any brains left to figure out there are better solutions than to just let another space station plummet back to Earth? We have new space vehicles coming out within the next decade, so why not use those to travel to the ISS?

Also, it's INTERNATIONAL – meaning it's not just OUR decision as to what happens to it. I hope the other international partners speak up and say "Hey.......just stop right there" and then work on a way of preserving this latest space endeavor! If our country is anywhere NEAR serious about space travel, we need to keep this going and EXPAND the space program.

We don't need to be the world's freakin police force! Let's save some taxpayer money, and rather than go in and solve everyone else's problems, let's put the money to some future use that will benefit everyone on Earth! Aren't we a world community? I bet if there are other worlds out there watching us, they are laughing their butts off at how stupid of an idea wasting the ISS would be – just as we think so!

Let's have some CHANGE and stop WASTING taxpayer dollars by junking space programs right after they are completed, like this one, which is a true testament to an international effort to make something worthwhile! Of course, none of these words will mean one whit if someone with clout doesn't open up their ears and get their heads out of their behinds and look around to see what they're actually saying!

Ben Coler   July 15th, 2009 5:19 pm ET

The station is too expensive and historic to be treated like a disposable razor. At some point we'll find a need to have a shuttle system once again - and perhaps a place to dock it. Who knows, maybe the major airlines will push for a space plane. Why don't we move the station into a higher orbit and keep it there until we have use for it again. Unlike landfills, space has almost unlimited storage "space". Ben Coler – Boulder, CO

Rick Milch   July 15th, 2009 5:19 pm ET

We skipped gears not having continuity between the shuttle and a replacement.....

the chinese are gonna giggle when they wave at us from the moon.....

Jen M   July 15th, 2009 5:21 pm ET

It's true. It's actually been the plan pretty much all along for NASA to deorbit ISS at some point. It looks like the public and some Congress members haven't been paying attention to what NASA has been saying all along, and now you're surprised. NASA would need a whole lot more funding to continue ISS while at the same time building the next generation of exploration missions to the moon and mars. So write those congressmen and get them to increase the funding!

Dan   July 15th, 2009 5:25 pm ET

Does know one else see through this at all? This is plain and simple political posturing on the part of NASA program manager. Preparing congress for the inevitable $10B per year bill to keep the ISS running once the current funding runs out in 2016. Classic NASA playing hardball with congress to get the funding they really wan't, if they just went in and asked for the money they would never get it.

Jeff Friedman   July 15th, 2009 5:36 pm ET

What people wanted to see (for their $100B) was something like the space station in "2001: A Space Odyssey", not the tinker-toy-looking contraption we got. I think the public would be willing to spend another few hundred billion to get a "real" space station. It would make sense to use the ISS as the base to build/grow a "2001"-ish space station around, rather than having to start from scratch again.

Steve   July 15th, 2009 5:37 pm ET

I think this is a crazy idea. It's like building something and then deciding to scrap it after it has shown amazing benefits to society.

Daniel Linehan   July 15th, 2009 5:40 pm ET

Yes, it cost $100 billion to create, and yes, we've spent decades putting it together. Does that justify spending more to keep a now-obsolete station in orbit? Since when does initial investment justify funding a virtual black hole of government spending? I say de-orbit it and focus on the Constellation program.

Chuck   July 15th, 2009 5:40 pm ET

What a waste! the shuttle system never lived up to its' original plans, now all or at least most of what it has accomplished will end up in the ocean. From dust we came to dust we will become. One more thing what has the space station contributed to the tax payers? I except that it shows that the scientific community can work together, but other than that, what projects have benefited all the people of the world?

Steve   July 15th, 2009 5:41 pm ET

Tear it down? Decommission it? No way, it should stay and it should be the basis for a larger station to be built around it in the future!

Irene, TX   July 15th, 2009 5:43 pm ET

Also, go at least to Wikipedia to read about the Centrifuge Accommodation Module (CAM) and its cancellation. Budget, of course... Experiments on the effects of microgravity on humans were the key purpose of the ISS. To reach Mars we need to maintain our bone mass and muscle tissue for 2 years – current duration of one-way trip. Without is we'll arrive in a shape of jellyfish after spending that much time in weightlessness, we'll simply "melt" and have to be "poured out" of the ship The ISS was planned as a testing ground for creating permanent source of artificial gravity on board of a spacecraft in flight for future long-duration missions; simply speaking, for human life sustainability in space. Talk about killing the purpose... It was so devastating to listen to Bush sick fantasies and false promises about reaching Mars in 2020 while the real thing, the first step, the facility already suited for a fairly long-term human presence was being killed before completion as he spoke. Long live the ISS, it may very well be one of the greatest noble causes we as an international community spend our money on! Kick out the politics, think humankind.

joe   July 15th, 2009 5:48 pm ET

NASA = idiots

Ken Simpson   July 15th, 2009 5:49 pm ET

Keep the space station and revamp the space shuttle. It makes more sense than going to the moon yet again with the idea of colonizing it. If they scrap the space station rest assured that shortly after its gone someone will propose orbitting a space station. The space station is a good platform for primary research. There's a lot we don't know about a lot of things.

Brandon   July 15th, 2009 5:57 pm ET

I think some other people have already said it, but NASA should privatize the ISS. I'm sure there's some MBA out there that can come up with a business model for it to make money; albeit through some subsidies and selling time and space in the modules to companies and rich individuals. Only problem is getting up there, but they can use Russian rockets (the cheapest and most reliable) that have carried space tourists in the past, or even get Burt Rutan to modify his private space vehicle design...

All in all, I think this is posturing of NASA to get more money, but it's a bad way to go about doing it.

Luposian   July 15th, 2009 6:00 pm ET

I sense something biblically ominous about the supposed de-orbiting of the ISS. If this is really true and really supposed to happen... then I think it's not only a stupid waste of $100 billion dollars, but also potentially very dangerous, when it comes down. And it's pure foolishness to invest another penny (or another second of our time/energy) into this thing, if you're just gonna rip it out of orbit in... uh, *7* more years? Hmm.

Something of a song comes to mind... "...don't let SkyLab fall on me..."

RoadKill   July 15th, 2009 6:05 pm ET

Yes, the ISS was put in low-earth orbit for the shuttle. ESA has said that it's "tug" heavy cargo lifter can be used to boost the ISS to over 400 miles up.. A MUCH better orbit, btw. And, yes, the Soyuz system CAN reach it, there. However, it makes for an impractical staging platform for the moon or Mars. It's only mandate would be research. As for access, the forced retirement of the Shuttles has made AMERICAN control of humans, on the ISS, absent. We will then be reliant on private, Russian, and possibly European human lifters. This will be only for a few years.
The real goal is permenant bases on the moon and Mars. For this, the ISS is not truely needed.

richie   July 15th, 2009 6:11 pm ET

The United states does not support scientific research. This is why we still burn the earth for energy and our planet is in peril. This is why our healthcare system is screwed, and we are all over weight over consuming unhealthy individuals destined for cancer or alzheimers. This is just another example of government flushing money down the toilet and not having anything to show for it. You're telling me that the best option for the 100 bill investment in ISS is to trash it. Sounds like we need someone else making decisions. No one does anything with an eye on long term sustainability. Its all profitability. I say lease it to virgin galactic. They will make a hotel out of it and then we can start turning a profit. Thats all its about anyways is money.

John in FrazierParkCalif   July 15th, 2009 6:12 pm ET

Completely insane and wasteful. We spent all that money and lives lost, and now they want to throw it away? I think whoever came up with that idea should be like, fired.

Clint   July 15th, 2009 6:15 pm ET

This article sounds a bit bogus. There are a lot more participants in the ISS than just the U.S. . While a large part of funding has come from us and we continue to spend a lot, we don't get to just make a decision to junk it. Sounds like someone is being misquoted. Perhaps the rep. from NASA meant that without funding the NASA won't be able to support keeping the station in orbit. Whatever the case, the ISS is planned to be used as a stopping point for the NEW Orion craft on its way to the moon. There are many benefits to having a presence in space. So many in fact that every citizen should Google what the benefits have been and what future benefits are predicted. There is a lot of value there! It's just hard to realize it when so many are losing homes, jobs, and so on.

Emerson   July 15th, 2009 6:18 pm ET

I'm also appalled hearing this idiocy. This lack of commitment bodes poorly for the planned moon missions, though I do understand the funding conflict that is surely at play. However, once we've gotten a lunar settlement built, are we going to abandon that, too? This really stinks of the "Yeah, we did this, but now we're done, and we don't care about it anymore" attitude I find very prevalent in the current generation(s).

If we drop the space station after all the money, time, and yes, LIVES that have been spend on building it, then we're done in space. Let America sit back and watch the rest of the world move forward and leave us behind.

Better yet, sell the thing to Virgin Galactic, so they can have their space hotel. Or the Chinese, I'm sure they'd love to have that kind of an asset prebuilt and ready to move in to.

Luposian   July 15th, 2009 6:19 pm ET

We are the only "animal" (if you believe in evolution – I don't) that is SMART enough to build a bomb that can destroy us all... and DUMB enough to push the button, to do it.

If this story is true... the above premise applies as well.

matt   July 15th, 2009 6:21 pm ET

I work at KSC and I have heard of no plans to deorbit the ISS in 2015. Last I heard we were going to turn the operation of the ISS over to the International community after construction is complete.

Dan   July 15th, 2009 6:24 pm ET

At the very least, tow it to a LaGrane point and save it for future generations as a kind of monument to mankind's 1st forays into space... or let Richard Branson buy it & turn it into a space hotel! If my generation isn't getting flying cars, and a space elevator is still 40+ years away technologically, we'd damn well at least get a chance to stay a night in a space hotel. C'mon people!

Jim Burnetti   July 15th, 2009 6:25 pm ET

Given that the Chinese own so much in US government debt that they practically own the space station already - maybe they'll take the space station in partial payment????

Than   July 15th, 2009 6:32 pm ET

Nice to know they're so nonchalant about junking billions of dollars of tax payer money...

"Oh this piece of crap space station? You didn't honest think we were going to keep it for as long as you kept your beaten up Ford Probe, did you?"

Gary Jaussaud   July 15th, 2009 6:33 pm ET

Gary's comment is:

I have always thought the space station and the space program in
general is a reminder back to the great pyramids of Egypt, Why were
they build and for who, and how many millions of people did it take to'
build them and pay for them? Today they are in decay like the country
that had them built, and for what?

Our space program will also go into decay for lack of money, and all of
the money this country spent on the program will be for what and for
whom? Unlike the great pyramids we will never be able to vist the
trails of space because it will burn up on re-entry to Earth.

Samuel Marks   July 15th, 2009 6:36 pm ET

It would be a criminally stupid act to deorbit the ISS after just 5-6 years of normal operations. The future of our species depends upon having strong, self supporting and lasting communities in space. We continually decry the expense of moving humanity forward while freely spending countless billions on pointless wars.

This sounds much like the government logic of shutting down programs to save millions after having spent billions in development.
Consider that more was spent in the bailout of AIG than has been spent on NASA's entire budget for 6 years.

The Moon crash idea, incidentally, would probably not work. This is a structure made for microgravity and operating within Earth's magnetic field.

Rodger   July 15th, 2009 6:39 pm ET

When will NASA start to think like a business? OK, so there's no Shuttle, but there are Soyuz... and what about getting a commision from Russia for every American tourist that we convince to make the trip on the Soyuz...? Evidently people are paying big bucks to make the journey!

Ben   July 15th, 2009 6:42 pm ET

The shuttle program and the ISS were both a tremendous waste of money. Flush the stupid thing and start over. We should be focusing our efforts on destinations like Mars and other places we haven't been before and not low Earth orbit where a kid with a really nice Estes rocket can go.

Herbys   July 15th, 2009 6:44 pm ET

Don't scrap the ISS.
Scrap the ARES program, move to the DIRECT program and with the saved money you can run the ISS for a decade.
And the DIRECT rockets will be able to maintain connectivity to the ISS right after the shuttle decomissioning.
It is amazing to think that they are going to be scraping a workign program to support one that's not working, that's grossly overbudget and that it is the cause they might have to scrap the ISS in the first place.

Eddie   July 15th, 2009 6:46 pm ET

De-orbiting the ISS would be an act of ignorance. Why continue building it, if they plan on destroying it, before it is completed.

It is the perfect platform for future space exploration. It would make a great midway point for the moon missions that NASA wants. It would also be a great place to build a spacecraft intended for deep space exploration. From the ISS you could build a ship that would take them to mars and beyond.

De-orbiting would be another great display of fiduciary waste within our government. I'm sure that the other countries that have built modules are not too pleased.

It's funny that we kept using capsules, until the shuttle was ready for use. Yet, NASA didn't even begin looking at an alternative spacecraft, until they were on the cusp of retiring the shuttle.

Ashley H   July 15th, 2009 6:52 pm ET

Yes. Perfect idea. LET'S TRASH A PROJECT THAT HAS COST OVER $100 BILLION!!!! Is NASA insane? The International Space Station serves many purposes; you can't just trash it. Humans will be living in space sooner or later, and the ISS is a way to see how humans can adapt to living in outer space. I think it is anyway. Experiments have been done also. You can't do it. The Space Station is awesome.

@Robert: Newsflash, space travel isn't the cheapest. Of course it's going to cost millions and billions of dollars, it's equipment that's traveling from Earth to outer space. Equipment that may come back or not. Equipment that orbits the Earth. Equipment that travels to other planets, and far reaches of the Solar System. Equipment that studies the Earth and outer space. Etc. If you're going to complain about NASA's budgets, you might as well complain about the Iraq War... What was it? How many hundreds of billions?

@Scott W: Excellent point there.

The Space Shuttle Program is awesome as well. I just watch Endeavour go up a little while ago.

Just think of the technological advances that NASA has made...

boomer   July 15th, 2009 7:04 pm ET

I like the moon idea, speed its orbit up and then use the earth to slingshot it to the moon for orbit there. There is already discussion of a moon base in the near future. Not to mention I didnt think NASA owned the whole thing, how does Russia feel about killing it?

michael   July 15th, 2009 7:06 pm ET

How can we seriously consider our future exploration of space when we continue to fail so miserably with our current programs? We need to change the attitude before we change the project.

Mike A   July 15th, 2009 7:34 pm ET

It's mighty hypocritical for taxpayers to bash NASA here in these comments when taxpayers are the people who have underfunded NASA since the 1960s.

In the 1970s, taxpayers provided far too little money to design a safe and robust shuttle. Then in the 1980s, taxpayers provided too little money for maintenance and robust safety upgrades. Then in the 1990s taxpayers divided up the cost of ISS among other nations and denied NASA's requests for additional modules to make the ISS truly functional, as well as a parallel transport method to complement the shuttles.

Space tourism provides far too little in profit to subsidize space exploration, and any profits from said exploration are at least a century away, and no science-oriented company is willing or able to pay tens of billions of dollars to perform private experiments in space. The only companies willing to subsidize large-scale space development are military contractors who are funded by - you guessed it - taxpayers.

Angel Castro   July 15th, 2009 10:40 pm ET

"To boldly go where no one has gone before" I think that the issue comes down to who have the right stuff – $$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Again, this is the world we life in. I think that NASA is doing a great a great job. I have been at Cape Kennedy and the next step for space exploration is the moon. The reason for the end of the space station is because, once a base is established in the moon; there will be no need for rockets, or space shuttle missions due to the fact that gravitational pull from the earth is not an issue, when the moon is used as a launch path. I say let focus on the moon, and then, go for the next step.

Bret   July 16th, 2009 1:04 am ET

After spending $100 BILLION DOLLARS – they want to junk the space station.

That is so assine. Leave it up there – as a waystation. Why do we need to shut down the shuttle. It's proven to be an effective "tug boat" of sorts.

After the previous shuttle launch – I heard them ask someone from the Hubble team about the shuttle and its replacement and the feeling is, it was every effective in doing its job.

I think its time to write Congress and NASA that this is a bad decision. Leave it up there. Expand it.. Most discoveries have been discovered in space.

Geo   July 16th, 2009 5:53 am ET

To date I do not know what if any groundbreaking research has been done in that space station.

Does anyone know of one experiment that actually did anything?

It always was said it was a waste of money. that nothing would be learned from it that hadn't already been learned in SKylab or the Russian spacestation.

Can anyone name one major breakthrough experiment done on the spacestation?

Thomas Futch   July 16th, 2009 7:50 am ET

I say, use it as a fueling and recharging station for future craft. With all the money that has been spent on it as well as the fact the it has just now been finished, it would be a waste to crash it. Another possibility would be to lease it to individuals, corporations and other countries. It could also be used as a life raft if necessary for future missions. It could also be hauled to Mars or another planet to be used as a base since it will take so long to reach it, a longer stay would make it worth while.

U S Citizen   July 16th, 2009 9:25 am ET

NASA must one of those rich people...we need the money for socialized medicine anyway. What is the big surprise here?..with the mounting debt we have to make hard choices and this is one of them so just live with it besides we all voted for it. People this is just the beginning we can all expect a lot more cuts and taxes to pay for our demands to be taken care of!!! Politicians and news organizations are the best bait and switch scam artists in the proud they belong to us all.

J. Westerson   July 16th, 2009 9:56 am ET

The whole point of space stations-from Skylab to Mir to the ISS-was to test the effects of long term periods of low gravity FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSE OF LONGER MANNED FLIGHTS INTO THE SOLAR SYSTEM! Now the ISS has become a floating Middle School science fair. The ISS needs to be converted into somthing useful-like an orbital construction facility for longer distance space craft. The consolation prize for ending Apollo was that space stations were merely a scientific simulation of a long flight to Mars. It's time we got back with the program. Don't burn the ISS, but don't let it stagnate as a money pit for NASA as it is now...Utilize it for something bigger.

Al T   July 16th, 2009 10:00 am ET

I have been at the rocket ranch at JSC since 1975. If Oboma's stimulus package would have allowed NASA one tenth of one percent of the total package, NASA could continue Shuttle, Space Station, and go to the Moon for the next 15 years. NASA budget ,(~16$Billion) is funded under the agriculture programs? Why? When wars or technology projects are pushed out ahead, millions of people benift. It's not the trips to the moon or the habitats built there or the journey to Mars, it is the technology, new metals, power sources, power plants, engines, insulation, radiation protection... It is all of these things that create spin-offs that help mankind. Investment in NASA research and programs is investing in man on earth. Money in the bank!

Guido   July 16th, 2009 11:35 am ET

It could be a place to store our used office equipment that no one wants. :)

Doug   July 16th, 2009 11:49 am ET

The ISS isn't even a completed structure as it is! They have only just increased the permanent crew to 6 people. This has been a huge investment in time, money, blood, sweat, and tears and we need to use it for many more years and use it until it is falling apart, much as the Russians did with Mir.
We have no problem with throwing hundreds of billions of dollars away on a war of choice and occupation while for a fraction of the cost, we could permanently occupy low Earth orbit and the Moon and begin the long delayed manned exploration of Mars.
The US Space Program has long been adrift without any real guiding direction and mission, a political windsock forced to do with inadequate funding and pressure only to keep the shuttles from blowing up.
I'm outraged that we are turning our back on reusable spacecraft. Turning our back on building a second generation of spaceplane.
Turning our back on building the fleet of orbital and interplanetary exploration vehicles.

Stephen   July 16th, 2009 12:15 pm ET

I agree with the majority of the replies on this thread. Those billions of dollars that NASA spent building the space station came out of OUR pockets, maybe they'd like to fully refund us??

More importantly, to me destroying the space station implies NASA's retirement. I've always looked forward to future space exploration (and have written essay's on it), and had one day hoped to join NASA. But after hearing this I don't think NASA is good enough for me.

As an end note, there are many other more resourceful methods of ending the space station, such as dismantling it and using the compartments to aid in the construction of a lunar colony.

So in case you may not be fully aware of my position on this issue, I fully (100%) disagree with the currently planned method of ending the space station project.

ed   July 16th, 2009 12:38 pm ET

I think we should keep it as long as we can it can be away staion to the moon and beyond, and keep the shuttle a few more years its not like they will just stop in 2010 i think we could get a few more years out of them till we can get another reusable shuttel the staion was something to dream about and I thought it would be there for a long time we spent aot of money and man power it needs to stay.

Brian   July 16th, 2009 12:58 pm ET

Any who believe that the ISS only serves as a destination for the space shuttle are missing the huge value it provides to experimental science. Especially with the shuttle being decommissioned, where else will you be able experiment in space until (or if) we return to the moon in 2020?

Is the ISS only a destination? Fine, then it needs to be maintained as a destination for the private space industry that is slowly bootstrapping itself into earth orbit. Furthermore, it can serve as the destination for the countless industries that rely on or utilize the experimental data that comes from work done on the ISS – experiments that provide important innovation to a wide variety of businesses.

Dave   July 16th, 2009 1:03 pm ET

This sounds just like another heavy-duty giant-ass contract cash cow federal agency threateniing more waste if things don't go it's way. The last I heard is that this is an INTERNATIONAL space station, and that just because the U.S. drops out of the picture as the major deployer of maintenance and sustainment activities (at least, considering the sizeable investment), doesn't mean we can't rely minimally on other countries like Russia to support minimal maintenance and sustainment in the interim, even if it's through some affordable subsidizing of their Soyuz or whatever rockets by the international community to do this. THIS IS JUST PURE CONCENTRATED ARROGANCE on behalf of NASA, and leverage on behalf of big wasteful NASA contracts. It's sickening to even have to listen to this.

Brian   July 16th, 2009 1:24 pm ET

By getting rid of the space station means that we wasted all this money for nothing.

I say lets sell it to Russia or China and let's keep it in orbit forever.

Richard   July 16th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

Perhaps someone should suggest that we de-orbit NASA as a whole.
100 billion dollars is a lot of money for fireworks.

I am part of the Star Trek generation and generally approve of a manned space program, but I am sick of this on again off again attitude.

Dan   July 16th, 2009 2:48 pm ET

At the very least, tow it to a lagrange point and save it for future generations as a kind of monument to mankind’s 1st forays into space… or let Richard Branson buy it & turn it into a space hotel! If my generation isn’t getting flying cars, and a ride in a space elevator is still 40+ years away technologically, we’d damn well at least get a chance to stay a night in a space hotel. C’mon people!

Kurt in Ca   July 16th, 2009 2:52 pm ET

It depends what other space pursuits are in the works. Listen, I don't know if it was a great idea from the beginning. What is it? It's a place in space which is not too distant (in comparison to space, the galaxy, the universe, or even for that matter our own solar system).

To me it was always a "We did it" experiment. It's not a total loss, there were COUNTLESS lessons learned in making it happen. Lessons that can be applied to a more useful objective.

Let's shoot for the planets, not the stars. The "space" between planets, other then having to 'get through it' is useless. We have to build something on a planet, that STAY'S there, and as such, WON"T get ditched from space, and can ALWAYS be upgraded when budget allows.

Lee Cochran   July 16th, 2009 3:10 pm ET

Deorbit ISS. That's insane! This is just what NASA did in the 70s with Skylab after Apollo. This is a big step backwards. Answer: develop a new shuttle vehicle to go to the station and the Moon. The current shuttle was flawed from the start by cost cutting that cost the lives of 14 astronauts. NASA seems to treat human space missions as a hobby that can be done here and there.

DALE   July 16th, 2009 3:56 pm ET

Common sense should demand that: NASA should not discontinue the shuttle program and abandon the space station. They could reduce the fleet 2 vehicles’, upgrade them and make a trip to space station two times a year. Continuing the research and scientific manufacturing of items, that can only be made in a zero gravity environment. And why not rent the space station out to the Chinese? They have the money to subsidize our Federal Stimulus; they can use the space station instead of spending money and losing lives on untested projects. They just need to come up with their own transportation back and forth. And the Chinese can help support the space station with our help. As time goes by and new technology is developed it may be possible to add on to the space station, to increase its usefulness. I am quite certain that the Russians, and Japanese and Chinese with their combined efforts could do this. And man, the space station, for many years with no trouble.

Yann   July 16th, 2009 3:57 pm ET

Building this station was an achievement on its own. Under Bush administration, they end the X-33 project which was suppose to replace the Space Station. They have set a new goal for NASA to put people on Mars by 2025. And they have decide to stop the Space Shuttle program by 2010.

While some were not sure if spending 100 billions for the space station were really a smart idea. I wonder if the new goal is smarter? As far as I know, moon exploration will serve to get He-3 and that's why there is a race to get it there.

Don't get me wrong, I like all those kinds of projects. But I think the biggest thing is to get the public on their side, so they could continue to get the budget and continue the exploration. I am sure that people at NASA work hard to get the best out of everything.

Fritz Scheiman   July 16th, 2009 4:59 pm ET

After the space station has performed its best science in low orbit, a near useless wasteland anyway, it should then be retrofitted with a low thrust booster to raise its orbit over time to geostat. Long term parked way up there will create a new future for the space station as a starting facility for when carbon technology becomes available to begin construction of the first geostat tether system. To just trash the space station without any effort to look ahead and after so much taxpayer money has been spent on it only reveals the typical lack of vision and foresight of our politicians. It's like they're telling us, "Hey, so what!? It was YOUR money we spent to build the space station, not ours. We got elected so we can do whatever we want!"

Barbary Coast   July 16th, 2009 5:08 pm ET

This is the most asinine (completely devout of any thought process) idea, I have ever heard in my entire life. If anything, we should continue to add on to what took a decade to build in the first place. We need a platform from space, we need more than one. If NASA can't flip the bill, then hand it over to private corporations or invest in corporations and private enterprise that can development systems to ferry parts, components, people. Let's not tear it down. NASA officials claim to be smart people, but they are really morons. In the early days geniuses took us to the moon, then they stopped. Forty years later, they want to go back and permanently settle the moon. Why did it take 40 years? because they are morons. I suggest we have a national vote on whether to scrape the space station or not. Oh, and don't forget it's an International effort, don't you think that all the other countries involved would also have a say in what happens to it?

Ishaan Singh   July 16th, 2009 5:52 pm ET

If you are going to spend 100 billion dollars on a space lab only to de-orbit it a few years later, then you are what everyone would call a dumb a**. Why spend 100 billion dollars of taxpayer money to make something, and then suddenly say we dont need it anymore. And what makes you think that you can just de-orbit the station with agitating the other countries that put capital into this thing ie. Russia, Japan, etc. What they just gave their money up and said "its your's now nasa, you can do whatever you want it, even de-orbit".

Anthony J. Hebert   July 16th, 2009 7:36 pm ET

The International Space Station is more than a just a collection of assembled materials visible as a fast moving point of bright light in the night sky. Although some criticize what they feel is a huge waste of money and others marvel at the engineering accomplishment orbiting our earth we should really see the International Space Station for what it truly represents.


There has not been a single wonder of the world throughout the history of man and women that was started and completed by a society that was not united. When we loose our ability to create magnificent complex and marvelous things whether for pure aesthetics or to further our knowledge we can no longer call ourselves united.

The Apollo program was astounding not because it took us to the moon but because it united a nation that desperately needed unity. Not only did it unite that one nation but for a brief moment in time it united the world. I only wish I could have seen it live.

As ludicrous as it may seem to some we need the International Space Station and we need NASA. If not for anything else for the jobs it creates to employ our finest engineers and people of all skills. We need our Space Program to also inspire our children to excel academically so that we might continue to prosper as the mighty United States of America.

We currently have a program that is developing vehicles to take men and women back to the moon called Orion. I think a country that accomplished the greatest feat of mankind can find a way to keep sending humans to the International Space Station after the Space Shuttle retires.

If you let the International Space Station fall back to earth you will destroy the symbol of our unity.

Bill   July 16th, 2009 7:45 pm ET

As a child of the sixties I grew up on star wars and star trek, the space program was based on the imagination of individuals who where raised in this era. The space station is the product of this forward thinking generation and I would really be disappointed if this dream that has became reality came to an end, just think about where we were fifty years ago to present day .There are kids today looking up to the sky wondering if they will ever get the chance to travel in space or at least get opportunity to become part of something as wonderful as the space program is,it has created hope for a brighter future and as far as N.A.S.A fleecing the american peaple out of billions of dollers I think the pay-off has been worth it to this point but some prudent oversite in the future(if there is a future) is needed,we as americans do take pride in the achievements we have made, they are part of what makes us a super power and something for other countries to look up to and aspire to be.I do believe that without these achievments we would not be in the position of power we are in today.

Brad   July 16th, 2009 10:34 pm ET

Building the ISS was a smart thing to do. It provides a unique laboratory in space, where experiments in microgravity can be done. Seems like there is still a lot to learn about space, so we should keep the ISS going. If the government is having trouble with funding the space station, then why not get private industry involved. With so many companies vying for space tourism business, they could probably sell room on the ISS easily. Then there would be plenty of funds for development.

Peter   July 17th, 2009 12:47 am ET

It is a horrible idea to let the ISS burn into the atmosphere, too much has been spent on building this thing. The Space station has taken the resources and money of many countries, not just the US, if they don't want to take care of the space station, then they should


that would be a great plan, it would take financial burden off the US and that is the real reason behind shutting it down. I don't care if countries unfriendly to the US take over, as long as it benefits humanity by what they are doing up there.

mark   July 17th, 2009 2:32 am ET

move it to the moon maybe?

Grover W. Denver CO   July 17th, 2009 3:03 am ET

place it in a standby orbit and send caretaker crews up every year to do housekeeping. 100 billion dollars sent into
the Pacific? Too much waste!

neill   July 17th, 2009 4:24 am ET

deorbit older modules that exceeded their lifespan, but keep usable parts up in orbit (solarpanels etc) for future use

each pound had cost us tens of thousands of dollars to get it there, so let's recycle as much as possible

till 2016 there's enough time to develop automatic/robotic means of operating the 'leftover' parts till they can be used again (e.g. future moon missions)

RNH   July 17th, 2009 6:51 am ET

It was very short sighted on the part of NASA to consider dumping the station already. This has been about much more than just space exploration, its been about cooporation and nations working towards a common good. Besides, I always thought that the ISS was suppose to be the stepping stone to a new future in space exploration. I think they were wrong to cancel the shuttle program before another alternative is ready. Lets hope Mr. Bolden was being truthful when he said he wants to build on the investment of the ISS and accelerare development of new launch systems. I, for one, would like to think that manned space exploration is beginning, not ending!

OldGeek   July 17th, 2009 7:09 am ET

Leave it up there even if its not functional. Its so hard to get that much material into orbit we should mothball it and try to recycle it when we need equipment up there. Or keep it up there as an emergency shelter for moon and mars trips. Monitoring the thing for air leaks is easy and the solar power will keep it going. So what is you have to pay the Russians to make an occasional maintenance trip. They ought to fire this bonehead.

David   July 17th, 2009 7:48 am ET

Seriously, what are they thinking? If nothing else, ISS would make for a good place to collect bits and pieces from the constellation project prior to a Moon/Mars shot. Assuming, of course, that Constellation is still in the works...

As the commenter said, push up the orbit and leave a shuttle up there to be able to do satellite maintenance. And as long as the Russians can get up there with Soyuz, there's no reason to deorbit the thing.

Matt in DC   July 17th, 2009 8:52 am ET

Ha ha...I like the cable guy's comment
(NHAIII, Comment # 2):

July 15th, 2009 10:59 am ET

Who cares, as long as it does not disturb the cable television satellites during re-entry.

Ken   July 17th, 2009 8:59 am ET

I agree with Senator Nelson. It appears that the US is ceding the high frontier to the Chinese.

DonRoberto   July 17th, 2009 9:16 am ET

Attach low-thrust ion engines at key points along the ISS' structure, and slowly boost it to a higher orbit, where it will be out of the way. Detach and deorbit any modules of the station that can't be stored, and mandate that all future orbital labs, habitats, and modules can be refueled and/or reprovisioned.

Yes, the science value of the ISS is greatly exaggerated, and its original purpose may only have been to justify the cost of the Space Shuttle ("to give it somewhere to go"), but the station DOES have an important historical value, and it should be preserved if at all possible. Pushing it into a higher orbit would preserve the station for now, while affording us hundreds of years to decide what to do with it longer term.

Jim Parker   July 17th, 2009 9:38 am ET

This would most certainly be a large nail in the coffin of our manned space exploration projects. I think that most Americans are beginning to see the real Obama and his policies. Just like the F22 and missile defense projects Obama feels that we don't need a Space Station, so he can pay for his socialization of America.

What has ever happened to commitment and obligation to our children?

It’s been more that four decades since we've landed on the moon.
I was 10years old boy 6:00am my dad woke me from my sleep, and said hurry up its happening. We ran to our living room turned on the light and TV, sitting on the couch with my father. We watched on our black and white TV as a man dressed in white with the American flag on his arm emerged from the Lunar Lander. I watched and remembered thinking to myself that the ship looked more like a bug to me than a vehicle that could land on the moon and safely bring him home. We watched with pride as he unraveled an American flag. I wondered after he struggling with it for awhile if he would be ever be able to place our flag on the moon, and he did.
We sat and watched most of the morning in amazement listing to Walter Cronkite, all the time not saying a word. Then mom interrupted the commentary “time to go to school".

I remember my father opening the door on my way to school that morning and saying that what type of commitment needed everyday.
I didn't quite understand what he was talking about until years later.

Watching that event through the eyes of a 10 year old was inspiring and amazing . We need more events like that to change the lives of our children. Inspiring events like a space station operational, a docking platform from where we explore the rest of our universe. Where our children can watch while our astronauts land on Mars and explore the rings of Saturn .
We are obligated to keep the space station operational long after 2016. We owe it to our children and their children.

Thank you for changing my life Buzz Aldrin

Jim Parker

Clever   July 17th, 2009 9:51 am ET

This is just a way for NASA to test the waters of indecision. NASA and other worth while programs are currently at risk of oblivion thanks to all of the bail outs and Obama's dream of socialism. The voice of the nation and the rest of the world saved the Hubble space telescope, so I'm confident this is just another way to accomplish the same but with the ISS.

With all of the money spent on the ISS by other nations besides ours, I seriously doubt they can just pull the plug on it without the rest of the world crying, "FOUL!". Like others have said, at could at least be reused in our quest for a more permanent base for lunar exploration. It should easily be pushed into a lunar orbit and used as a staging ground for further exploration on the moon.

WhyDat?   July 17th, 2009 10:25 am ET

Until the Federal government takes the education, in Mathematics and Science, of Americans, seriously enough to properly fund our schools, that don't properly teach it, then we should boycott Nasa and the ISS.

It is a national travesty, and a national embarrassment, to concentrate so much scientific knowledge and experience into the hands of such a small, select few, while the US school system, nationwide, is allowed to disintegrate before our very eyes.

Is this what the suppression of scientific knowledge looks like? Because, if it is, then it is plainly obvious, and should enrage every American.

For all of the "scientific" advances that the space program has brought into your daily life, how much of it were you taught to understand in school? Come on; you're a smart person, right? So how much of it were you actually taught to understand? Sure, the computer that I'm typing on right now, the microprocessor and the circuitry inside of it; are all technologies enhanced and matured via the space program.

But ponder this question: Why weren't you taught about a computers fundamental components, functions, construction methods, software design, in school? What? Couldn't fit it in somewhere, in 12 years of curriculum?

How many other advances, technologies, has the "space program" given society, that you don't understand, and were never taught the simplest thing about; to be able to competently explain to another person, or to reproduce for yourself?

Seriously, if I left you, alone, in a secluded area, with nothing, no lights, no cell phone; how long would it take you to build a computer so that you could send an email, letting someone know that you were stranded? Could you even survive the night; seeing as after 8 years of elementary school, and 4 years of high school, you were never taught the basics of how to build a fire – without using matches. Never mind about how to construct a computer – or a cell phone. Hello!

Ever bother to ask why you weren't? Or, were you easily satisfied with the, "well we just don't have enough money to fund those types of programs within our school system." Meanwhile, Nasa has a credit line so gigantic, that it can write a 1.5 billion dollar check, out to cash – of course, every time that it launches a space shuttle.

$1,500,000,000.00 USD. That's a lot of dollars, right?

I'm not saying scrap the space program. What I'm asking is, "where are our national priorities?" Because allowing ourselves to continue to be a nation of scientifically stupid people, that's the real threat to our national security.

Sara   July 17th, 2009 10:44 am ET

Concerned Citizen, I hate to break your fragile little bubble but it's the INTERNAITONAL space station. It's a symbol of world achievement not "American superiority". It's people like you that have the rest of the world mad at us.

Brad   July 17th, 2009 11:31 am ET

This is NASA's MO – doesn't anybody remember Hubble? This same thing happened with Hubble. NASA says "OMG, we don't have money, I guess we can't service Hubble any more" then money comes pouring in and then the money runs out, and the process repeats again. Very simple.

Ben   July 17th, 2009 12:31 pm ET

The ISS has been one of the greatest achievements in the past two decades. To make the decision to allow the entire project to end would be a waste of the time and effort of thousands of personnel worldwide, along with the American taxpayer. We can surely think of a way to keep it going even if we do have to rely on other foreign powers to do so.

Richard Anderson   July 17th, 2009 1:51 pm ET

The ISS is the biggest mistake NASA and the U.S. ever made in the history of space exploration. It was created in-part to provide work for out of work Russian nuclear scientists so they wouldn't go work for the Arabs to build atom bombs. Now, $150B later (the $100B is a lie) they've produced next to nothing from it that can be considered of value to any space exploration program. In the process, they gutted many other smaller programs that would have yielded positive benefits. It should be de-orbited RIGHT NOW!

Gordon   July 17th, 2009 1:58 pm ET

Two words: space tourism. Trump ISS–it has a nice ring to it.

Dennis, Fairfax, VA   July 17th, 2009 2:33 pm ET

Well, if we've exhausted all research potential, why don't we turn it into a refueling station for future moon missions? It worked in the movie Armageddon, right? No, wait...

mike   July 17th, 2009 3:00 pm ET

That is just what it is, The International Space Station. There are other countries involved. What do they say and how can they help keep it going. We are not alone in this and just because congress or anyone else says lets let it burn is just ridiculous. And what about the ISS original purpose has that changed. If nothing else it is and will be a symbol of international science and exploration.

Vincent   July 17th, 2009 3:07 pm ET

The ISS can not, as far as I can tell, be pushed into any higher of an orbit from Earth: the amount of fuel necessary for such a maneuver would be astronomically prohibitive, there is a risk of destruction via micrometeorites or too much stress on the station's infrastructure. For significantly higher orbits and beyond, it becomes that much harder for it to be supplied for parts, food, water, and other supplies if it is farther from Earth (ESPECIALLY SO if you try to bring it to the moon). It already must perform periodic burns several times a year just to stay in orbit. Keeping the orbiter would provide little more thrust for a lot more mass: the tradeoff isn't economical.

As for putting it on the moon: to put it bluntly: dream on. In addition to the enormous risk of it breaking or suffering damage beyond repair en route (it is currently about 200 miles up; the Moon is 250,000 miles away), you'd have to burn a lot of fuel to get it there and maneuver it properly (almost certainly way more than can be held by the Soyuz modules there), there's virtually no way of setting down on the moon "gently" (the attitude control on the station will be eaten alive by lunar gravity), most of the station will be useless even if it did survive as most of the compartments and storage will be aligned incorrectly relative to the lunar surface, the solar panels from which the station derives power are far too fragile to survive any contact at all, the batteries on the station for when the station is in darkness is designed for 35 minutes not the 2-week lunar night, and I don't believe the station could withstand 2 weeks of 220-degree temperatures (Farenheit) followed by 2 weeks of -240 degree temperatures. It's far easier and cheaper to design and build a purpose-built lunar station from scratch. Plus, now it's 250,000 miles away: how are you going to supply it?

No one else is in any position to take up the reins should NASA drop it. Russia's broke. Canada has to piggyback on the US. Europe and Japan don't have the expertise. China's not sufficiently advanced in their space program to be able to take the helm in the next five to ten years (plus there's too much rivalry between the US and China; there's no way NASA would hand over control). Everyone else is years from any significant presence in space beyond satellites. The station as it is designed will not operate without NASA. No NASA, no station.

I don't see the ISS as an economical private entity either: few can pony up the billions necessary to maintain it, and why would anyone do that when private spacecraft development (the SpaceShipOne and whatnot) is a thousand times cheaper? For tourists, is going from suborbital to orbital really worth going from $300,000 for a suborbital flight to close to $30,000,000 per station visit the Russians are currently charging? Trying to make it an actual hotel will cost even more billions. Unless someone can show me how it could be done, I'm not buying it.

Leaving the station abandoned for any length of time in orbit is dangerous. On site, with no one to monitor, pieces can break off via degredation or collision and become flying chunks of death for any future missions manned or robotic. There's already an estimated 600,000 pieces greater than 1 cm in size (13,000 large pieces are catalogued by US Strategic Command to make sure they aren't mistaken as a hostile missile launch). How many more might be had if the ISS broke up uncontrolled? Once a piece breaks, it's very expensive to replace, and it won't take much to condemn it beyond recovery for any future restart. In any case, money would still need to be spent monitoring it from the ground.

To those who site the $100 billion already put into the station as a reason to keep it going, you have fallen into the sunk cost fallacy. No matter what, that money can never be recovered. The same is true for the argument that the US shouldn't cut and run from Iraq because of the 4000+ lives lost in the occupation. What matters is what can be done from this point on. If the station can not serve any useful purpose that would justify current and future funding, then the best course of action would be to bring it down.

The only saving grace I can see is if the Orion (the vehicle designated as the Shuttle's successor and looks like a bigger-sized Apollo, except reusable for up to ten trips and carry 4 to 6 people) doesn't have any big hitches in its development by 2014 (its scheduled maiden launch) and can take up the slack before the plug is pulled. There's a bit of a window where the Shuttle could stay in service beyond next year, but when things operate on a tight budget, disappointments are to be expected.

As a political scare tactic, this may well be. Admonishable, perhaps, but given how many other things there are to spend on – military arms, helping the poor, fixing the environment, getting out of this recession, education (the K-12 kind) – you can't exactly blame them for doing whatever they can to keep their jobs alive. Von Braun had it easy when the Soviets were around, but I'm not really looking forward to another Space Race with China.

I'd really hate to see the ISS go. I'd love to see humans return to the moon and set foot on Mars. But unless significantly more funding can be had or a clear purpose can be set ("We'll need it in the near future" (note that NASA's current plans for Orion as a Moon-bound vehicle do not call for a stop at the ISS) or "We can do experiments on the ISS that we can't do on Earth or even a KC-135" or something), I really don't see any other option.

Max   July 17th, 2009 3:21 pm ET

Has NASA et al thought of contracting out space on the station. Various commercial consortiums might jump at the opportunity to pay a fee to have dedicated space on the station to test equipment and material....not to mention the potential for those few space tourism companies to have their own module...for which they would probably pay a pretty penny.

It would behoove us to foster these commercial space launch companies by having a station in orbit, rather than forcing them to construct their least at the beginning...since we're only taking our first, tepid, steps here.

Realist   July 17th, 2009 3:33 pm ET

Okay well yeah it is a shame to see it go. however this could be a bigger step than most realize in space exploration. If the shuttle program is ended then the space station no longer serves a purpose, which was for the shuttle to go somewhere when its in space. Instead of spending money on what will be an obsolete space station in 2016, they can use it to put funds into maybe sending humans to the moon and one day mars.. It is a necesarry step in order to expand our exploration in space.. on the other hand.. why not modify the space station to dock with whatever new space ship they plan to use?? It could serve as a docking point from earth to the moon, maybe....

Robert   July 17th, 2009 4:11 pm ET

The only thing stupider than deorbiting the station in 2016 are the suggestions of putting it in a higher orbit or landing it on the Moon. Not to be mean, but these suggestions only come from people who don't know the slightest thing about rocket science. The space station can only function in a low orbit. Talking about putting it on the Moon is equivalent to saying let's put a bicycle in the middle of the Atlantic. The space station's design only allows it to function in low orbit and the shuttle does not have the ability to get it to the Moon. The physics of why would be a very long article. But scrapping the space station is almost equally dumb. Do they really expect us to believe that because we can't get to it until 2015 we should shut it down in 2016????? The logic doesn't even make sense. The new US spacecraft (Orion) is scheduled to start flying in 2015. (Granted, we know this government. It will be delayed. But it will start flying eventually.) Plus, the commercial orbital spacecraft are expected to start flying around 2015-2018. If the complaint is the US doesn't have its own ride to get to the space station after 2010, then if that's a good reason to abandon it, then abandon it in 2010. Don't wait until we regain our spaceflight capability and then abandon it after we can get to it again! In the late 20teens we will have choices to reach the station – the NASA Orion, the SpaceX Dragon, who knows what other options. Virgin Galactic may even have orbital spacecraft by then. 2015 is when we will finally be able to use the space station for what it was designed for.

What they aren't telling you is the real reason NASA wants to get rid of the station. Bush told NASA to go to the Moon, but didn't give them the money to do so. (That's also the real reason the shuttle is being retired. Don't believe it's too old or dangerous. NASA was ready to fly it until 2050 or longer. But the shuttle money is going to finish paying for Orion and Ares I, and start paying for Ares V and the lunar lander. They then shut down the station to finish those off and pay for the lunar outpost and rover.) Keep in mind, NASA has desperately wanted to go to the Moon since Nixon kicked them off of it back in 1972. NASA will do ANYTHING to go to the Moon, including gut itself. NASA wants to expand outward into space. They want to make the world of the Jetsons, of Star Trek, of anything else Hollywood has done in space, become real. And given the money, they can do it. But Congress and the President are never going to give them the money they need, so they will cut any program short they have to in order to push the envelop and develop the best thing they can. They built the space station. And if we really make them choose between actually using the space station or building something better, they're going to build something better. But the nation will be better off if NASA does both.

Jerry   July 17th, 2009 4:39 pm ET

If NASA can't maintain the Space Station then what part of selling it, is difficult decision to make?? There are private companies coming to age, such as Virgin, that would buy it (at a terrific price) and use it as a hotel.

jim   July 17th, 2009 4:58 pm ET

Typical thought process in Washington amongst the elite: trillions for CO2 gas, pennies for real advances (

Omar   July 17th, 2009 5:17 pm ET

They are nuts! NASA knows that in 2012, big disasters are going to happen. Planet-X, Comets, Solar Activity, etc...the worls as we know it, will not end but it will be a BIG DISASTER, that the ISS is to house some people, and DNA, so after the big disaster happenes, they can return home EARTH and re populate the planet, the ISS is for the HUMEN SPECIES to SURVIVE! Yea in 2015, things will be over and yea, no need for the ISS....that's why it's coming down after 2012...

SEARCH on Yahoo or Google: 2012, Planet X....

Ken   July 17th, 2009 5:41 pm ET

If they don't want it in earth orbit, then move it to the moon, we need a station there.

Mike   July 17th, 2009 7:59 pm ET

I think that the space station should be loaded up with fuel and during the last year of it's life, it should be slowly pushed to an orbit around the moon. Then, when we go back to the moon, we will have a refuge from the harsh surface. Or, load it up with supplies & crash land it on the moon. Either way, it will be of more use than burning it up and crashing it into the ocean.

Ralph Levy   July 17th, 2009 8:42 pm ET

Pure lunacy How is space program going to proceed without it. The station could have been a platform for building a better larger station and also interplanetary spacecraft to Mars and Beyond.

Mike   July 17th, 2009 10:21 pm ET

Quite frankly, NASA and the European Space Agency knew from the day ISS was designed and planned that it would have only a twenty year lifespan. The orbits of any body less then a certain height will decay with time, and without some form of boosting, which is impossible with the shape and composition of ISS, it will crash. Happened to Skylab, and to the Soviet MIR, and it will happen to ISS. There is no way to avoid it.

Annoyed By Many Fools   July 17th, 2009 10:51 pm ET

Okay, I've actually wasted, yes wasted, almost 20 minutes reading all of these posts. I have three points I feel I must counter.

1) $100 billion goes up in smoke?
A) Yup, pretty much. NASA and the ESA KNEW, from the begining that there little pet project would go boom just as they were finishing it. They had a few ideas of how to fix this deorbit problem, but not real solutions were available, since getting all three shuttles up to boost ISS to a higher orbit was never in the cards, and probably wouldn't have worked anyways.

2) The US doesn't have control over an International Station.
A) Actually, it does, but that doesn't matter. The station is being abandoned in 2015, not because of money issues, but because it will be untenable. The Chinese can't buy it, nor can Virgin Galactic, simply because IT IS CRASHING. There is no force on Earth that can prevent this. NOT A ONE. It will crash, and since NASA is the lead, they announced this fact.

3) Send it to Moon/Mars/Virgin Galactic/China/someone, anyone else.
A) Sorry again folks. They aren't buying, BECAUSE IT IS CRASHING! You can't send it to the Moon, BECAUSE IT WASN'T BUILT TO MOVE! There is no way to save it, but the information we have gotten out of the station IS substantial.

Now get over it, find out the science of why NASA is announcing abandonment of such a major project, and make informed posts, please?

~JD   July 17th, 2009 11:28 pm ET

Why not 'mothball' it in space (so to speak). Push it out a little further, so as to not be a risk to unplanned earth re-entry...It could be used as an emergency 'hotel' for future troubled space travelers...Aren't we planning to re-visit the moon? Those brave souls would have an island to retreat to, if needed, without having to risk a full return to earth...I bet the ill fated Apollo crew would have loved a safe place to go while NASA worked on a solution!

MTmike   July 18th, 2009 2:04 am ET

I thought it was the international space station not the NASA space station. Why does NASA alone get to decide the fate of the station? What about other countries and all the dollars they spent? If they got the damn thing built then they sure as hell can keep it going!

go_lro_imagery   July 18th, 2009 10:00 am ET

The primary reason for terminating the ISS program (from the NASA perspective) is because of budget issues. NASA would love to have it up indefinitely, but with NASA's buying power continuously decreasing year after year, something has to give. If you're truly sickened as I am about the talk of plans to de-orbit ISS in 2016, please write to your representatives in Congress, who control NASA funding.

In regards to the suggestions that the ISS should be tugged over to the Moon: unfortunately, this isn't practical. The Space Shuttle was not designed to be able to fly to the Moon on its own, and as a result it can't tow the ISS to the Moon. Another matter: the ISS flies at about 350 km (average) of altitude. The Moon is about 400,000 kilometers away. To leave low earth orbit would require an increase of velocity of about 3,300 meters per second.

Another important point: The USA doesn't control the primary thrusters on the ISS. The thrusters capable of doing this are all on the Russian segment (which is owned by Russia). To de-orbit the ISS, the USA would have to convince Russia to de-orbit the ISS as well. I predict that the de-orbit of the ISS will be a much more complicated matter than just the US unilaterally deciding to bring it down. The international partners are definitely not trying to bring it down, either.

FYI – did you know that NASA only gets $0.006 of every tax dollar (fiscal year 2008)?

I also find it ironic that most media is covering stories about hoax conspiracies upon the Apollo 11 40th anniversary, and yet scant mention is made of the recently released Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter imagery that shows (albeit in somewhat grainy imagery) the descent stages of the Apollo missions (except for Apollo 12), knocking a huge blow to the hoax conspiracists. Of course, Bart Sibrel and the like will just say that the imagery was Photoshopped.

Brandon   July 18th, 2009 11:35 am ET

$100 Billion! This is whats WRONG with this country, They spent it and as soon as its complete, DESTROY IT!! They Better Keep this Darned thing up there for the LIFE of it, and Further more, EXTEND the Shuttle Program, if they need new SHUTTLES, BUILD THEM! How DARE they even decide this without PUBLIC input! I mean Really? $100Billion in construction just to let it burn up? HELL NO, You better get your Moneys worth out of this sucker, and RETIRE the Shuttle Program later.

Jim (Virginia)   July 18th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

Well what is the annual cost of keeping it up there? Compare the initial investment with the operating costs, and see where we draw the line then...

Beach   July 18th, 2009 5:48 pm ET

Instead of deorbiting the space station why not strap a rocket to it and launch it into orbit around the moon. It could then be a staging point for multiple surface missions to the moon as a base gets built (it that is going to happen.

As with most NASA projects it seems that we engineer for the mission at hand then give up. The Mars Rovers are a perfect example, and so is the Hubble. Cheaper to keep them running than to build another one. Get the monies worth!

Tim Pierce   July 18th, 2009 6:30 pm ET

One more Giant leap backwards for mankind. Someday, sooner than we think, our children will look up with wonder to the stars as we sadly tell them "We were spacemen once".

mintyhippo   July 19th, 2009 1:33 am ET

if theyre going to junk just because we cant get there on our own or because its to costly to keep it running why cant they just power it down and keep it in orbit for future use? or they could disassemble it and use the modules and things to build a base on the moon

B   July 19th, 2009 4:21 am ET

All make a living somehow... It will go in flames but the $ is in the poket! Who cares about space... LOL If they dont spend it they loose it!!!

Ed   July 19th, 2009 11:37 am ET

Of course the USA should continue it's fight to be a leader and innovator in technology and space exploration which, after all, benefits not only the country but all of humanity in so many ways. But, apparently there is a disconnect going on with this project which raises a big question as to the wisdom of funding any further large projects since this is a massive waste of tax dollars, resources, etc.... I say that until the space program gets it's ducks in a row (and that includes coordination its goals with the government that funds it), any further projects should be severely scrutinized. NASA and the government really screwed the pooch on this one!!!

Wim   July 19th, 2009 11:39 am ET

Why not sell it to one of the private companies that are roaring to get into the space business? They'll make good use of it and will get us back to the moon (this time to stay) much sooner.

Dennis Girardin   July 19th, 2009 2:54 pm ET

I've been an avid follower of all NASA missions since Apollo 8. Unfortunately, the long term planning of this country's space program has been horrible ever since Skylab. Congress and NASA has always been short term thinkers. I think it is pathetic that we spend 100 billion dollars of time and effort and then have the station just simply burn up.

If we don't start to put consistant long term time and effort into the space program, countries like China will take the lead and benefit from the advanced technology developed.

Wasted   July 19th, 2009 4:43 pm ET

This really doesn't surprise me at all.

NASA is a government organization.

Our government wastes more money than any working class person like me could even imagine that exists and has done so for decades.

What I do find surpriseing is the number of people that are surprised by al this.

This is your government hard at work as usual wasting mine and your tax dollars.

Rich Lightyear   July 19th, 2009 7:49 pm ET

Certainly – pure lunacy. But so is sending a man to Mars – a mission that will end up like the trip to the moon in that once achieved we will find reason not to return again. All the money to insure astronauts will survive such a trip would purchase an armada of bigger and better rovers – all with high definition optics and real scientific instrumentation. Keep man in low earth orbit AND extend the big US lead in advanced space robotics!

Squirty Dooglestein   July 19th, 2009 10:37 pm ET

After the space station collapses from the amount of weight in space, I think it should be sold instead of letting it drown. We could make so much money from selling it off.

When the Ares project finally really takes off, we can build another space station and call it The High and the Furious!


Nancy   July 19th, 2009 10:44 pm ET

The purpose of the space station has already been fulfilled really. I still think it's a waste to just junk but I think it was a bigger waste to continue to keep building it. I remember a couple of years ago that there was a period where construction almost came to a standstill. Since it took so long to build it almost makes sense that now the station is nearing an obsolete point which is the problem. If we are ever going to truely consider serious space exploration in the future more money needs to steadily be invested. NASA is not to blame because with every presidential administration it either gets a ton of money or it doesn't. Unfortunately, the funding is simply too sporadic to continuously improve and efficiently keep improvising on space technology.

Mars? The Moon? I hate to say it but I don't see us anywhere close to that point and I don't think we'll get to exploring/habitating any of those places anytime soon. I think that will eventually happen in another hundred years plus or minus.

William R. Cousert   July 19th, 2009 11:57 pm ET

A $100 billion investment and we only get to use it maybe four or five years after it's completed?

Are they out of their mind?

Supposedly the ISS was only designed to last a maximum of 20 years. What were they thinking? An investment of this magnitude should have produced a station that would last generations, not a mere 20 years.

Why can't we build a space station that could last 100 or more years?

Thomas Harrop   July 20th, 2009 2:52 am ET

Gosh, I didn't know that's how things worked. We just finished our house. I guess we will live in it a couple of years and then bulldoze it and live in the street.

I hope this NASA dork is just trying to make everyone angry so we will protest and get them more money. It would be sad to think the America space agency is really run by someone who is that stupid.

Stephen   July 20th, 2009 3:07 am ET

So let me get this straight:

1) Shuttle's last flight in 2010.
2) Five years with NASA relying on third parties to get astronauts to the Space Station.
3) Ares first manned flight in 2015.
4) Deorbit Space Station in 2016.

Someone has to explain the logic here better. I mean, do we know why we are in space? I am not going to sit here and calculate out how many mortgages you could right off or schools you could build for the kind of money spent on the Space Shuttle or the ISS, that would distract from the point. But are you really telling me the silly thing is only good for another seven years?

Jan   July 20th, 2009 11:47 am ET

Heck I'll give them $20.00 bucks for it.

Dom   July 20th, 2009 1:32 pm ET

R.I.P. Scientific Progress 1390 – 2016

I'm serious. What happened to NASA? the United States? When did we become such sissies about Space? Seriously. What happened to the great leaps and bounds we were making? Now because of a little recession and a couple of lost Shuttles we're just going to give up? Pathetic.

Steve O'Rourke   July 20th, 2009 6:42 pm ET

How about using the space station as a space ship to Mars?

Attach a booster to it and continue to lift it to higher earth orbit and then eventually accelerate it out of the orbit and onto Mars orbit?

Add storage modules, etc. extra solar arrays......

I assume you could attach a lander to it. It would give the Mars astronauts a lot more room for what will be a very long trip.

It might not be "pretty" but I hate to think of letting it crash to earth (deorbit). A waste of equiptment and living quarters.

John Johnson   July 20th, 2009 8:05 pm ET

I don't get it. Why do anything? Why not just leave it up there – as a historic monument to technology. Wouldn't cost much, just a little bump in speed every ten years to keep it in orbit. Maybe it could be enclosed in an energy-absorbing foam. Space junk would become embedded, clearing out dangerous space debris. Maybe in 50, 100 years, we'd want to restart it again – would be great national geographic story.

Joemamabush   July 21st, 2009 12:21 am ET

Send it into a moon orbit. Then we have a station at the moon. Any worldly person could see it that way. Money well spent if this plan is taken up if not sorry N.A.S.A. you lost it.

Ryan   July 21st, 2009 9:26 am ET

I agree with everyone above who said that they should use it as a starting point for colonizing the moon. If we already spent all that money on it, might as well use it for something worthwhile.

Joe   July 21st, 2009 3:44 pm ET

You can thank Obama appointee Norman Augustine for that decision. Suffredini does not want to decommission the space station. Pressure from the Obama administration that wants to review (in other words dessimate) the space program is causing such an announcement. I guess money for the so called health plan has to come from somewhere....

H. Scott   July 21st, 2009 3:51 pm ET

Why are we all surprised by this? Is this not in line with the kind of waste and poor decision making we have come to expect from NASA?

mm   July 21st, 2009 4:02 pm ET

Is this a joke?
Japan just finished and is sending up the module with the new viewing portal.
What a horrible waste of a resource and a terribly short sighted thing to do.

Steve   July 21st, 2009 8:32 pm ET

Well, what is going to replace the shuttle fleet? If the Space Station was created just "to give the shuttles some place to go" won't the new manned rockets need the same? Or are we saying we have conducted every experiment we can at the Space Station? Or are we saying that the future of space exploration is un-manned and robotic and thus conducting experiments on the Space Station is no longer necessary? At the very least break it apart and bring down a huge section to place in the National Air and Space Museum. Don't just let the darn thing burn to nothingness with no value whatsoever.

Terry   July 21st, 2009 10:51 pm ET

Sell it to the Chinese, after all they have all our money and a budding space program thanks to the clinton administration which was integral to sharing our technology . They could probably afford to keep it running and lease time to Nasa

Rich E   July 22nd, 2009 6:17 pm ET

While I am concerned as to why this is happening, might be interesting to determine how much the Space Station has contributed to new technology and products here on Earth. The shuttle was a Cadillac (actually more of an Edsel – glitzy but somewhat disfunctional). Now we are returing to the Chevy solution in boosters and manned space flight. We can't even build a Saturn 5 today – have to borrow Russian technology derived from the Saturn engine. The Shuttle and Space Station will be determined to have had a deleterious effect on advances in US space technology and systems.

Steven Natiello   July 22nd, 2009 7:46 pm ET

The Washington Post explains:

The rap on the space station has always been that it was built primarily to give the space shuttle somewhere to go. Now, with the shuttle being retired at the end of 2010, the station is on the spot. U.S. astronauts will be able to reach the station only by getting rides on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

Someone made a mistake if the article is about the space station being retired then there will be no reason for a ride on any Soyuz spacecraft right?
I find it hard to fathom how the ESA and other contributers of the international community will not be outraged or at least the citizens of these countries who all paid for this great endeavor in science research on the International Space Station.

Mike   July 22nd, 2009 8:06 pm ET

I like Buzz Aldrin's take on what NASA should be doing & I hope NASA listens to what he has to say.

DJ Whatshisname   July 22nd, 2009 11:28 pm ET

IF this is serious then this is an indication of a serious staffing problem at NASA at some of the highest levels....we should get rid of the geniuses and hire people with sense.....where do I sign up? I have plenty of free time on my hands...certianly I can come up with a better idea.

Kevin Feenan   July 23rd, 2009 8:54 am ET

If they are going to just abandone the thing then I'd be willing to buy it for say $1 and then start talking with Branson about getting his SpaceShipTwo ships up there to continue research and exploration. It is only arogance by the US that suggests they are the only ones capable of keeping this thing afloat. I'm sure that there is more than enough private sector money out there to keep this thing running for tourism, reaseach, and further out bound exploration.

As a 2nd option – what would be the problem with moving this thing from earth orbit to lunar orbit? If we are going to the moon before going to Mars wouldn't having an orbiting space station in luna orbit be a far more productive thing than to just junk it? It will take far less energy to keep the station in orbit around the moon than the earth.

Gary Gilham   July 23rd, 2009 11:47 am ET

Can't move it to higher orbit or to the Moon or Mars? No such thing as can't, even it it takes a near miracle. It is possible. Maybe not as simple as pulling it out with space tugs, but $100B+ that has been spent to get this material out to low-orbit, and that's just the beginning of the journey. Why waste this effort now?

I am aware the ISS is not just hanging weightless in space. It is a massive object, traveling at or near escape velocity, around 25K mph, a couple hundred or so mi above the earth. It has a helluva lot of momentum. (If it were motionless it would simply fall back to earth). A great deal of energy was expended to get it to this velocity and distance from the earth's surface, but this is only the start. It has not really escaped earth's gravity, this is an illusion. Increasing momentum (by booster rockets) would simply put it in an outward orbitting spiral and would take decades to travel a net distance away from earth, but that's a problem for NASA engineers to work out.

I don't care to hear a rocket scientist's explanation as to why it is impossible to move it out from its present orbit. Put your thinking caps on and tell me how it is possible. Would they have told Kennedy his vision was impossible back in the Sixties? Would they have called him brainless or an idiot? No, and NASA performed close to a miracle by sending men to the moon and back with relatively primitive technology before the end of that decade. There was no such thing as can't then, and no such thing as can't now.

Even if it has to be dismantled and taken in parts, it is likely more feasible then starting anew from modules still on the earth's surface.

A space station of some sort and scale in Martian orbit is a very practical goal. A human presence within hundred or so miles of the surface would allow nearly instantaneous messages (traveling at 'c') to be relayed back and forth from the surface to a the control center (the space station). This will increase the feasibility and safety of both robotic and manned surface exploration. It will happen, whether it is built from parts of the ISS or afresh, but this will be an essential stepping stone to the eventual human exploration on the Red Planet.

David Buchner   July 23rd, 2009 1:43 pm ET

Re: "serious staffing problem at NASA" –

Read the "Fourth curmudgeon topic:".


Peter   July 23rd, 2009 4:03 pm ET

We'll spend a trillion dollars killing hundreds of thousand of people, but $100 billion is too much to stomach to advance all of mankind...

The truth sucks, doesn't it?

Robert Kent   July 24th, 2009 2:15 am ET

I think it's time to shut down NASA and let private enterprise take over.


Bigelow is only a couple years away from launching a space hotel – without spending $100 billion to do it! And without a cent of tax payers money!

It's time to pass the torch.

andre   July 24th, 2009 8:54 am ET

Ask not what we could do for the Space Station. Ask what the Space Station will do for us.

Sam Hung   July 24th, 2009 1:06 pm ET

Give it to the porn industry!!!

Outerspaceboy   July 26th, 2009 3:26 pm ET

I think we should go ahead and retire from the perspective of the US but we should sell it to another country wishing to have and maintain a habitat/test facility in Space. Also if one of the new vehicle sustain damage, At least we can have a place to dock until another rescue vehicle is sent up.

Brian Frale   July 28th, 2009 3:13 pm ET

Wow, what a WASTE of money it would be to de-orbit the ISS in 7 years. This thing has cost us only $100 billion over the last 11 years! That’s about 9 billion per year. We are spending 70 billion in one year (2009) to bail out banks which made questionable business decisions. We spend trillions per year for our national budget to keep our Government running. 9 billion per year to run a space station is less than a penny out of every dollar our government spends in a year. This seems an insignificant price to pay for the notoriety and scientific benefits of being the owners and operators of the world's only permanent orbital laboratory. Americans: tell your Congressperson to get with the other Congresspeople and give NASA a clearly defined goal for keeping the Space Station up until it is no longer safe to do so. Then tell them you want NASA to put us back on the moon too. It will not cost you much at all (1% or less of the taxes you pay). It will gain you advances in technology you never imagined. It will create new commercial private space launch business opportunities. It will give your country a bright shining jewel of an achievement to talk about when others doubt our worth as a nation. Our space program is the best deal anyone anywhere as ever spent money on.

William R. Cousert   July 28th, 2009 10:42 pm ET

>Our space program is the best deal anyone anywhere as ever spent money on.

True, but we could do so much better.

Launch costs are too high. It costs over $10,000 per pound to place payloads (or people) into orbit.

I really wish someone at NASA would answer this question.

Why aren't we working to lower this cost? It's been nearly 50 years since the first human was launched into space. You'd think the costs would have come down significantly since then.

Boeing once said they could build a fully reusable fleet of space planes that could be maintained like jumbo jets. Why doesn't NASA take them up on it and order a dozen?

Make space travel as cheap and convenient as a trip to say Europe or Asia, not something that requires the resources of a large country.

Is this too much to ask for?

Jacob C Brown   August 15th, 2009 4:36 pm ET

You have to understand that if NASA did nothing the station would de-orbit it's self by 2016. Now that it is complete it is acting like a giant sail, slowing down with every dust particle and radiation. currently the shuttle boosts the orbit to counter this self-induced de-orbit about 4 times a year. but with the shuttle going away in 2010 and no other way to constantly boost the orbit the station will fall out of the sky on its own.

NASA does NOT want to de-orbit the station, but they don't have a way to stop it until about 2020 which is too late.

we definitly need the shuttles to remain in operation until the new Ares rockets are up and operational.

then again i hear SpaceX ( is on its way at creating Ares I and Aries X alternatives that could have the potential perform the orbit boost.

also if you are wondering why is there this de-orbit problem and why wasn't it considered in the original design. well originally the station was to supposed to be at about 25.6 degrees inclination (That is the latitude of the launch sites at the cape in Florida) and much higher altitude. but to accommodate the Russians who couldn't, until recently, launch a rocket that could reach that inclination (recently they purchased islands around the equator, so now that can launch to any inclination). So we increased the inclination but to accommodate our shuttle we had to lower the altitude of the station so we would have enough fuel to get to the station and back.

so there you have it, all we need to do is move the station back to the original orbit (25.6 degrees) and increase the altitude (i think about 50km, putting it at 400km) and we can keep the station there with its own internal rockets.

Rodger   August 15th, 2009 7:16 pm ET

Ahh, c'mon everybody! The Space Station doesn't actually exist! It's just another sequel to the moon shots of the seventies! They gotta find some way to get out of having to continue pulling off the hoax! And what's all the stuff about de-orbiting anyway? We all know that the world is flat!

David Buchner   August 15th, 2009 8:16 pm ET

I thought there were Progress reboosts, too - and that Shuttle ones were done when available because that saved ISS propellant. No?

Good points about why ISS is in the orbit it is - but as much of a compromise it is, I'm glad it ended up in this inclination... because then most of the world gets to see it in the night sky, which is pretty fantastically cool in my book.

pinboy   October 2nd, 2009 11:16 pm ET

they need to de-orbit nasa.

Doug Vernon   November 14th, 2009 9:48 pm ET

De-orbit everything with the exception of telecommunication satillites.
Every so often I take a look at a digitally generated image of the earth being orbited by space junk...thousands of pieces of hulks, bolts, screws, gloves, tools and other odds and ends. It is amazing no one in space or on earth has been killed by this massive floating scrap heap. I do believe
this trash addicted civilization of ours begin a galactic clean up campaign
before continuing further space exploration.

Doug Vernon
San Diego, California

popapiano   November 22nd, 2009 11:26 pm ET

Here's the ugly truth from an insider. Large government-funded institutions are breeding grounds for corrupt individuals who use these institutions for personal advancement using any lie or misrepresentation to achieve their own selfish goals. The ultimate good to the nation is not even a factor to someone like this. If they can cancel a program and show they saved money, it's a feather in their cap. The ultimate worth to our country and humanity would have never have had even the slightest consideration. Expecting vision and concern for the future from a government middle-level bureaucrat is like asking a toad to sing. All you're going to get is a croak.

FB M   December 15th, 2009 12:32 pm ET

What a waste of resources, the iss was completed 5 yrs late due to shuttle crashes, So we lose 5 years of research? Duh, what are the boys at NASA thinking? Use the thing as a spaceship, Why are they developing a Ares support version for the iss. How about our partners in the iss?

Robert   May 12th, 2010 3:56 pm ET

It is SAD, that the democrats in the government care more about raising taxes for fake science, then funding real research in science.

Global warming is key to them, and not the research from the space station that may some day definitely probe that it is false. They want to stay clear of all Real Science, because real Science cost to much money. And it would be unfair to all the people that can't read or understand science, and it would hurt their feelings and not allow the government to fund their disability( being fat and lazy)

Besides they need something to blame the global cooling on after 2015 when they will no longer be able to ignore it.

Angelica   October 8th, 2010 12:35 pm ET

I see this as yet ANOTHER idiotic move to push America backward rather than forward in the world.
Stupidity governs our country and it has to STOP! Think of all the technology that has been developed because of the space program.

We're turning the future and ultimate good of the USA over to our enemies in the name of "saving money" when these baboons in Washington are sending our tax dollars to dead people and inmates!

Sad. Very, very sad!

Carl   October 8th, 2010 12:49 pm ET

You get what you vote for. People voted for hype over substance and now you're going to reap what you sow. Look for America to take even more steps backward as we increase the size of the welfare state.

Space program? Not needed. Defense? Not needed. Science? Not needed.

Rick C Krefting   November 12th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

I think we should cut our losses & Build a really larger space station. One where we can build ships in space that we can use for space exploration & to defend our planet against metors, commits. & anything else that will harm our planet. We should design something like Jupiter Station from star trek. There we would have so many more possibilities. The needs would be endless then. That's just my opinion, To see that we have waste all this time & for what? 41 years & we haven't even scratched the surface. Its time to put away these childish Ideas & start really thinking of our future & not about always making a buck for the rich. But for the well being of our planet. I am disgusted with our lack of progress. We have had 41 years of space exploration & we haven't even begun to travil the stars. There are to many I afraid. Well I am not.

Redeye Dog   November 12th, 2010 1:07 pm ET

@Rick C Krefting – There is a bit of conflict in your comment. You make example of the "Jupiter Station from Star Trek," yet criticize our "lack of progress" in "41 years."

Perhaps you might take note of the date of exploration of the Star Trek series you mention and consider the time it took them to get there.

Maybe our "lack of progress" may not seem so dismal when viewing the entire prospective.

None the less, I cannot imagine scrapping such efforts as this.

Scott   November 12th, 2010 2:06 pm ET

@Rick C Krefting – I am more disgusted with your deplorable spelling. For proponents of space exploration and exploitation to be successful, their message really does need to at least show some semblance of intelligence and understanding.

Please do not use the tenants of a science fiction fantasy as the basis for an argument on reality.

A Different Scott   November 12th, 2010 2:43 pm ET

@Scott – Proper spelling is best used in conjunction with correct word choice. The space station may have tenants, who may pay with greenbacks or bottles of Saurian brandy, but science fiction fantasies have tenets which may merit further discussion.

asher   November 13th, 2010 10:28 pm ET

we as a peaple spend 100 billion on a space station just to see it burn up in 6 years wast what are u thinking come on wake up talk abought wastfull spending we could have used that money to house and clouth needy peaple insted of wasting it as you did come on mr presadent you can feed a person for 80 cents aday add it up 80 c devided by 100 billoin thats alot of less hungry peaple in the world right

MateoDiego   November 18th, 2010 4:23 pm ET

All these comments are far more interesting then the article itself. I see the situation a little differently… Without knowing for sure, I am confident that there is a more than good reason for scrapping the ISS, but I sure would like to know why just the same.

It appears NASA needs to do some serious PR about what they are up to. Clearly they have a plan, although I am sure the plan is a constantly evolving plan. That plan needs to be communicated in such a way that the people that are ultimately paying the bills can understand. This has always been the problem with science or military based government organizations. They know what they are doing (or at least we hope), but nobody else does.

Gary Gilham   November 18th, 2010 4:51 pm ET

What! This blog is still active after a year and 4 months, and it hasn't deteriorated into rants about Jesus and other sky-gods? Maybe there are some critical thinking Americans out there after all!

Its time NASA starts planning to dismantle the ISS and re-configure the parts into a giant cartwheel al a "2001 Space Odyssey", originally sketched by Von Braun in 1946, and illustrated in picture books by Willy Ley in the 1950's. Any grade 3'er would understand that a revolving space station would provide an artificial gravity environment for its occupants. For what reason has something like this not been built yet? Let's see... all the NASA funding has been channeled into funding the wars in the Middle East...

Saint   December 8th, 2010 4:30 pm ET

The station can be the go between Earth and the Moon and Beyond so why skuttle it. when going to the moon and building a base there then they can put another station between the moon and Mars maybe. Making them refueling and parts stations to journey further into space. Making them jump off points so to speak.

fx   July 25th, 2011 2:28 pm ET

the space station is currently set up as a refuge for the ulta rich to move to in case of a worldwide biological economic or nucular event .the shuttle program wil continue in a secret location so it can be accesed by world leaders and powerful people .

Timothy C. Kitchner   September 16th, 2011 2:27 pm ET

Well Lets hope for the sake of our childrens feuter, that an adolt is not in charg of elimenating the spac station..................................................

Scott   September 16th, 2011 2:36 pm ET

"Timothy C. Kitchner
Well Lets hope for the sake of our childrens feuter, that an adolt is not in charg of elimenating the spac station.................................................."

Let us also hope than an adult was not in charge of your education.

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Mike   July 18th, 2012 5:01 am ET

Get rid of Obama in 2012 and keep the space station up ther for 50 more years. Obama seems to want to destroy everything good in this country.

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Personal training Long Island   January 11th, 2014 11:21 pm ET

Wait what?
That means the $100 billion research facility, which has been circling Earth since 1998, will ultimately burst into flames as it reenters the
Earth's atmosphere and crashes into the Pacific Ocean. We are not going to let that happen right? What a waste of a valuable resource.

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