Bad Astronomy

De-orbiting the ISS in 2016?

The nearly-completed space station
I was very disturbed to see an article in the Washington Post claiming that a top NASA official was saying that the International Space Station might be purposely de-orbited as early as 2016!

That shocked me. I am no fan of the ISS, and wish that money had been spent instead on a concerted effort to build a Moonbase – or almost anything else – but now that the money is spent it’s crazy to talk about dropping it into the Pacific just a few years after it’s built.

Well, as it turns out, the date of 2016? Maybe not so much. Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today has the story. Basically, delays in completing the station may delay its eventual demise. However, it’s fair to note that NASA’s budget can fluctuate substantially, and is at the mercy of the whims of Congress. With even the Constellation program at risk – and Constellation has already been started up – it’s hard or even impossible to say where NASA will be in a half dozen years, or what it will be doing.