This is a report
I wrote for Sophmore
english class. It's not good. I spent many a sleepless night writing this, so if you steal it I will not like you very much at all
I don't think having a guy named goat_attack in your works cited adds to your credibility.
When the topic of space stations is brought up, one inevitably thinks of the graceful spinning wheels shown in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey (2001: A Space Odyssey). While the space station featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey has a magical, dreamlike quality. Undoubtedly this is what Ronald Reagan imagined when he proposed the construction of a space station (Kluger 90). The International Space Station has been nothing less than a nightmare to all involved. The International Space station has been plagued by problems: cost overruns, construction delays, and heavy criticism; these problems shed serious doubt on the practicality of the international space station.
Budget has always been one of the central issues of the International Space station. When the station was first conceived one of it’s greatest assets was it’s price: eight billion dollars from design to completion (Kluger 90). Unfortunately, this figure has turned out to be wildly inaccurate. A more recent estimate has placed the final cost to Nasa at twenty-four billion (Anselmo, NASA 27). Ten billion alone has been spent on design and redesign (Kluger 90), the remainder is being spent on construction. The majority of these budget problems has been due to Russia.
The Russian space program has been troubled by a severe lack of funding, only 20 million of the 384 million dollars needed was supplied (Anselmo, White 26). Cash has been so tight at Balikonur Space Center that many employees are not paid, and, as a result, they are forced to steal equipment and rations meant for the ISS to feed themselves (Kluger 88).
One of the many items that Russia promised but has had severe problems paying for is the Science Power Platform. The SPP would have included gyroscopes for rotating the station and an array of solar panels . It was discovered that the Russians would not be able to launch the SPP due to it’s weight. NASA agreed to launch the SPP in exchange for the development of a new supply vehicle. Russia canceled the supply vehicle, now the launch of the SPP will cost the USA one billion dollars (Oberg199).
The Zvezda service module has been the greatest problem to ISS’ budget so far. The completion of Zvezda became worrying enough that NASA paid 170 million dollars to have a Navy spacecraft converted into an Interim Control Module (Mari 71). The Zvezda module was finally delivered in July 2000, making the ICM unnecessary (International Space Station Assembly).
Another component that Russia has may be unable to provide is a pair of Soyuz modules that would act as lifeboats in case of an emergency. As a result NASA is now being forced to design an emergency return vehicle of it’s own (Oberg 120).
In each of these instances America has been forced to pay. NASA has been forced to cut it’s aeronautics budget. The high speed research program, which was a high priority projects in the early Clinton Administration, and the Advanced Subsonic Technology program was also canceled to draw money toward Russia (Anselmo, Space Station Eats Up Aeronautics Funding 31).
NASA claims that much of the money lost to Russia can be made up through commercialization of the ISS labs. Microgravity manufacture, biotechnology research, and Molecular-Beam Epitaxy are some ideas, which NASA believes that will help to pay for ISS. Unfortunately many of these are simply impractical: production in microgravity is extremely expensive due to the cost of shuttle launches, biotechnology research can be done on earth with comparable results, and MBE is simply impossible due to gasses near the station (Beardsley 66). The Japanese Experiment Module is scheduled for installation in February 2004 (International Space Station Assembly), this means that any the use of ISS as a laboratory is impossible until 2004. Commercialization of ISS is unfeasible or simply impossible.
Budgetary problems are the greatest and most pressing problems currently, these problems, in turn, lead to more problems such as delays. Once again the blame falls on Russia. This delay was caused by the construction of the Zvezda service module, which was heavily under funded, resulting in long delays.
The International Space station has come under heavy opposition, primarily from scientists. Both the Space Science Board and the American Physical Society have deemed the ISS unnecessary (Mari 76-77). The reason behind this fierce opposition is due almost entirely to funding. Many scientists believe that the same research which will be done in the ISS’ labs can easily be done cheaper and more efficiently through the use of unmanned space craft. According to Christopher Mari: “Space research itself is far more cost-effective when done by satellites and probes, several of which can be launched for the price of a single space-station resupply mission (81).”
All the problems which have manifested themselves so far are an early indicator of the impracticality of the International space station. Budget overruns, construction delays, and criticism in such an early stage of construction may just be the beginning of the ISS’ problems. One cannot help drawing parallels between the International Space Station and HAL, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey, both were built with good intentions, and both have become nothing less than nightmares (2001: A Space Odyssey).
I'll try to find my works cited ASAP.