International Space Station may be temporarily abandoned
= because of little-O
Info available in these two Aug 29th articles-
USA Today.com http://content.usatoday.com/communit...yuz-failure-/1
~ There's six men aboard the ISS and two Russian Soyuz capsules, each capable of carrying three. There's also a Russian cargo container docked (Progress), but its replacement was lost during launch a few days ago. The Station is stocked with supplies from the last Shuttle mission and is fine until the Japanese or European cargo containers (HTV and ATV respectively) launch in Spring 2012.
~ Due to a rash of failures in Russian rockets, Russia wants to launch both a Soyuz and a Progress before putting men on board.
~ The Soyuz capsule has a finite lifespan in orbit and both will end before the two Russia rest flights take place. Three astronauts must return in mid-Sept and the other capsule cannot be used after the end of Nov/first of Dec.
Both articles list the high possibility the other three astronauts will return in mid-Nov and leave the Station unmanned. While it will continue to orbit and can be maintained from ground control, all the science experiments will end - some prematurely.
Another option not mentioned is if the first Russian launch is a Soyuz capsule (as expected and is successful) in late Oct/early Nov, the remaining three astronauts could stay aboard until around late-May 2012, sending the old Soyuz back unmanned once its replacement arrives. They could continue the ISS science mission, including keeping the HTV and ATV launches and science on track. By late-May 2012, the new Soyuz capsule will be at the end of its lifespan and the crew will have been on orbit for nearly a year. If they cannot be replaced at that time, the ISS would then be abandoned.
* For a bit of political twist, China is planning to launch their own 'space station' (little more than a can, temporarily manned like Skylab) around the end of the year.
Should also be noted little-O has done everything possible to cancel the Shuttle replacement capsule and did cancel the rocket (Ares1) to carry it. Though both are still under development (the capsule nearly complete and the rocket has a final test next week), they would be flying right now as a replacement if not for his actions. In return, almost a billion has been spent on pork-barrel powerpoint presentations for commercial flight and made the US wholey dependent on the Russia vehicles for ISS access.