As the International Space Station will soon be taken out of use, a replacement must be found. The countries that partnered up to build and maintain the ISS have been meeting for quite some time to discuss the possibility of constructing an international lunar outpost. The station would be placed in the vicinity of the moon, as it is easier to build a station in orbit than on the moon.
NASA officials have met with Russian, European, Canadian, and Japanese representatives to discuss the possibility of a cis-lunar station. The meeting took place last week in Houston. No details have surfaced yet as there was a secretive vibe to the whole thing.
The International Spacecraft Working Group, or the ISCWG, is responsible for coming up with the perfect replacement for the ISS that will be retired somewhere in the next decade. For the moment, the team has not released any official statements or plans to the public.
Rumor has it that the talks revolved around an international lunar outpost. The outpost will feature superior technology than the one currently used on the ISS. Scientists are planning to incorporate electric propulsion and closed-loop life-support systems as well as other top notch systems that will allow the crew to conduct extensive studies of deep space bodies.
The outpost will consist of several modular components brought into orbit by NASA’s SLS rockets. The idea is that the crew would have to connect the modules similar to how the Apollo crews extracted the lunar modules during their missions.
The main difference between the Apollo missions and the Orion ones would be that the latter would have to do everything in the moon’s orbit, not on its surface.
Ass in the case of the ISS, every country that will wish to adhere to the program will be able to launch its components.
The European Space Agency will contribute with an electric engine of its own design. Both thrusters would work on xenon gas. The Canadian team suggested building a robotic arm, while the Japanese offered to add a self-sustaining habitat to the space station.
Last but not least, the Russians will contribute with a state-of-the-art airlock that will make spacewalk missions a lot simpler.
An official statement regarding the ISS replacement plans is expected any moment.
Image source: Flickr
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