July 15, 2009
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:
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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