Whichever way one looks at the situation, the International Space Station has either already passed – or is approaching – the halfway mark of its existence. Its future beyond 2020 remains unclear, but its potential remains enormous.
Photo Credit: NASA

Although the Exploration Gateway Platform has not received approval, or even formal acknowledgement as a primary goal for future Beyond Earth Orbit exploration, it is believed that a great deal of support exists within NASA for this possible next step into deep space.
Image Credit: NASA

Preparing for ‘The End’…and a New Beginning

By Ben Evans

A year or so before The End, the process will begin.

At some point in the not too distant future, a multi-national project, costing tens of billions of dollars, employing the efforts of hundreds of thousands of people and responsible for cementing the foes of the past into the allies of the future will come screaming back to Earth in an impressive display of fireworks and thunder. The International Space Station – whose first elements were launched way back in November 1998 – is presently the largest artificial satellite ever placed into space by human hands. Weighing nearly a million pounds, it extends 240 feet long from the forward end of its Harmony node to the aft port of its Zvezda module and a full football field (more than 356 feet) across the width of its expansive solar arrays and trusses. Cost estimates for this astonishing accomplishment, the greatest engineering triumph in human history, are many and varied, but as a tool for bringing us closer together as a species, the station is unparalleled.

Read more: Preparing for ‘The End’…and a New Beginning « AmericaSpace.

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