The International Space Station

The International Space Station is the doorway to the future of mankind and the world as it is known.
The scientific and medical discoveries that will be made on the station could create billions of dollars
annually. A plan like this, arranged to benefit the whole world economy, should sound like a good idea to
every person, but some believe that the ISS is too risky, too ineffective, or too costly to create. Whether or
not the space station is worth the money, time, and effort, one thing is clear, everyone is interested in this
virtual floating laboratory and what assets or liabilities it will bring. The future of scientific
experimentation and exploration may be located, not on earth, but on the man made island called the
International Space Station.
Of all the factors that go into building a space station, construction of the massive object is the most
tedious objective. During the building of the ISS, tensions have run high several times when deadlines
were missed or funds were not available. This space station is the most expansive mission the world has
ever encountered. The International Space Station will be a fifteen country mission. When finished, it
will boast over an acre of solar panels for heating and energy, have a volume roughly sizable to two jumbo
jets, and contain four times the electrical power of the Russian space station, Mir. It will take
approximately forty-five flights over the next five years to assemble the one hundred pieces of the station
while circling the orbit of the earth (Goldin 11). This floating station, the size of a large football stadium,
which is traveling at over 17,500 miles per hour around the earth, will have a minimum life expectancy of
only ten years, although scientists hope for a much longer time. The station is so large that it will
sometimes be visible by the naked eye during the night (Chang 12). Many people agree with the idea of
some sort of space laboratory, but wonder why it has to cost so many tax dollars. Some estimates for the
station confirm that the cost has been underestimated by billions of dollars. Late last year Boeing beat out
several other competitors for the prestigious position of main contractor. NASA agreed to sign a 5.6
billion dollar contract with Boeing to build many of the essential parts of the space station. Russia is also
placing trust in this airplane superpower. They signed a 180 million dollar contract to build the Functional
Cargo Block, the unit that will provide power to stabilize the station (Bizony 87).
The International Space Station may provide many scientific discoveries, but everyone will pay for it.
This project will become the most expensive project in space since the 1969 mission of Apollo 13 to the
moon. The total estimated cost will be over twenty billion dollars (8).
On the International Space Station, there will be a large variety of experiments ranging from
improvements of industry to medical advances. The largest portion of time will be devoted to scientific
experimentation and discovery. The ISS will create advances that will assist scientists to better understand
the mysteries of the physical, chemical, and biological world. Without gravity they may conceive the
technological discoveries that will boost all economies (Goldin 11). One thing the astronauts will use in
their pursuit of knowledge is remote telescience. It is an advanced technology that allows scientists on the
ground to monitor the progress of the experiments on the station. This will keep people on Earth up to
date on the data collection that is occurring in space. Telescience will use interactive data and video links
to make the connection as realistic as possible (“Science Facilities” 7). The populous sometimes asks
what the station will do scientifically. The International Space Station will try to answer questions that
have bothered deep thinkers for years. The affect of no gravity on living things, any mental and physical
affect on humans in space, and the growth of better materials in space that will create better products on
Earth will all be explored in hopes of becoming better understood. Hopefully, scientists will be able to
answer these questions and many more on the International Space Station (Chang 12).
NASA has confirmed that microgravity, the almost weightless condition of space, is one of the
largest factors in the experiments that will occur aboard the International Space Station. The affects of
gravity and microgravity on animals, plants, cells, and microorganisms