As the year 2020 edges closer and closer, the end of the International Space Station’s days come ever nearer. As of yet NASA hasn’t decided what to do with the soon-to-be derelict space station, but the leading plan is to just let the thing sit there until it eventually plunges into the earth’s atmosphere and it’s eventual doom.
As cool as giant raining balls of fire are, I think we can come up with some far more useful, and cooler ideas of what to do with the world’s most expensive man-made object.
Now, while space stations sound cool, and seem like monumental human achievements they really aren’t all that impressive. Hell the only reason the ISS even exists is so that the US and Russia can pat each other on the back for not blowing each other up, and gloat about how awesome their manned space programs are, while not actually doing anything. Space-based youtube videos aside, space stations are boring and largely useless in their present state. So if NASA doesn’t want to waste money pumping money into a veritable tin can orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles an hour, then that’s good with me, but let’s dispose of it in the most badass way possible. To do that I say we take a note from ’80’s action movies, and refill Gravity, but blow that shit up for real this time.
Ok so maybe blasting the International Space Station to bits isn’t the best idea. Aside from the fact that space debris doesn’t react well with communications satellites, explosive decompression seems like a bloody waste of a tin can. So if we can pull squeeze a little more money out of that paper thin NASA budget then I say we follow the Patrick Star method:
I’d like to take credit for this idea but sadly that goes to the Ruskies. Yup once the ISS mission is officially over, everyone’s just going to shake hands, congratulate each other on throwing an awesome party, pack up their stuff and leave. Remember I said NASA doesn’t know what to do with the ISS, or at least the American parts, the Russians are just going to go somewhere else and have their own space party. Put if were going to keep throwing money into our share of the ISS then we have to do something cool with it. That is we should turn it into a refueling and rendezvous point so as to facilitate future deep space missions (any similarity to the Russian plan is purely coincidental). Who knows the thing might end up being useful after all.
The question now becomes where do you put it though. One option is to leave it where it is in low earth orbit. This is a good place to have a refueling/rendezvous base, it’s exact orbit may have to be tweaked, but low earth orbit is a good spot nonetheless. OOoooorrrrrr we could put it someplace cooler like in one of the Earth-Moon Lagrangian points. There are 5 so-called Lagrange points in any two body system like the Earth and the Moon for example. These are places where the gravity of the two bodies pulling on a spaceship, in combination is the centripetal force all cancel out, the result being that you can simply sit stationary in space without moving relative to the two bodies.
If this sounds like space magic, that’s because it basically is. I’m an Aerospace Engineer and I barely understand it. Anyways, they make great places for space stations because whatever you put there will stay there, unlike orbiting satellites which must constantly move around the earth to keep from being pulled in by gravity. Personally I like L4 and L5 because they’re in the middle of nowhere, like they just appeared out of the blue. But the most practical spot is L2 on the far side of the moon, because once you get there it’s just a quick jump to get anywhere else in the solar system.
But even weird-ass lagrange points aren’t cool enough. Everyone loves the ISS so plopping it behind the moon like a used diaper is a duty not fit for such a well-loved station. I say we go balls to the wall, the coolest place you could retire to how about MARS! Yes you heard correctly, I say we retire the ISS to a nice cosy orbit around the big red planet. If you recall during the Apollo missions when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went down to the moon’s surface to play a round of golf, part of the ship stayed behind in lunar orbit to monitor everything and talk to Huston about how it’s day was going (Houston is so needy). When we eventually go to Mars we are going to need a similar ship to stay in orbit monitor things on the ground, talk to Houston, and act as a- NASA calls it a “life-raft” in case something goes wrong and our astronauts need rescuing. Plus how cool would it be to have a space station around MARS! The way I see it we’ve wasted enough of our time in Low Earth Orbit, let’s go HAM and move the ISS (or at least the US parts) to Mars. I bet you it’ll make the Ruskies jealous, and isn’t that what life is all about.
If you would like to read more space-based bloggery then you’re already in the right place! It’s August Month of Madness, which means I’m brining you a brand-new post everyday until the 31st! And if you have an awesome idea of where to move the ISS, or literally anything else you want to tell me, send it to GilmosWorld@gmail.com.