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More rumors about a year-long mission on ISS

The possibility that NASA might finally agree with Russia’s repeated request to fly a year-long mission to ISS grew stronger this morning with two stories:

The first, by James Oberg, digs into the underworld of NASA politics to find that plans might very well be more advanced than NASA is letting on:

Specific mission dates and crew candidates are already being assessed. The sources discussed the plans on condition of anonymity because they were not yet due to be announced publicly.

Both articles point out the economic advantages to the Russians of longer missions, as they would free up seats on the Soyuz capsule for tourist flights. Both articles mention how this would also increase the likelihood that the rumored flight of opera star Sarah Brightman could take place.

And both articles note the necessity of completing long duration space flights as a preliminary to exploring the rest of the solar system. Astronauts need the experience. Doctors need to learn more about the long term effects of weightlessness on the human body. And ground managers need to understand better the problems of supplying a mission to Mars. All these things would addressed by longer missions on ISS.

Finally, flying year-long missions to ISS would help convince a very skeptical American public that the U.S. government is serious about exploring the solar system. As Oberg rightly notes,

So far, NASA’s strategy for exploration beyond Earth orbit has been mostly just talk and long-range planning for bigger rockets. Battles over booster designs and budgets, and even an unresolved issue as basic as selecting an actual destination in space for future astronauts, have contributed to the impression that little or nothing is happening.

A commitment by NASA to fly year-long missions would change that impression. One of the reasons I think the Space Launch System is merely a boondoggle and will never fly is because I, along with many others, do not believe the Obama administration (or Romney for that matter) is really serious about flying missions beyond Earth orbit. An agreement by NASA to fly long duration missions on ISS will help dispel that skepticism.

And even if NASA never flies a mission beyond Earth orbit because the budget deficit makes it unaffordable, the knowledge gained from these long missions on ISS will still make it more likely for someone else to move forward. If anything, the excitement generated will likely act to stimulate interest in funding a privately financed mission.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • wodun

    IIRC, the last time this was brought up, the article mentioned that NASA already had selected an astronaut for the mission. That would suggest they were pretty far in their planning but of course that doesn’t mean it is likely to be implemented.

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