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JackWindu
2015-May-01, 03:12 PM
A few weeks ago I was reading an article about the ISS and how it will eventually no longer be in use after 2022(?). Right after that I read an article about a manned Mars mission. I guess reading the two articles so close together got me thinking. It seems like a waste of several billion dollars to have the ISS burn up on reentry. Could we not reconfigure the ISS, attach a couple of large rockets to it and send it to Mars? I mean it would also need to have a Capsule attached to it to get you onto Mars. Then have a capsule with liftoff capabilities already on Mars to return to the ISS. Before you leave Mars you could detach the rockets used to get you to Mars to save weight for the return trip. Am I crazy, or is it even possible. Just a thought from a non-rocket scientist guy who loves space exploration. :D

selvaarchi
2015-May-01, 03:20 PM
Maintenance cost even in LEO will be skyrocketing by 2024 (latest proposed end date for the ISS ). I hate to think how much it will be if it went to Mars.

Romanus
2015-May-01, 04:28 PM
If the delta-v graphic on Wiki is right, the delta-v from LEO to low Mars orbit is ~6 km/s. However doable that is for an unmanned probe, we're nowhere near doing that for 450 metric tons of ISS, even if the station could survive the stress.

JackWindu
2015-May-01, 04:38 PM
I figured it wouldn't be able to withstand it.

Swift
2015-May-01, 04:50 PM
One of the big issues for manned travel to Mars is radiation exposure outside of the Earth's magnetosphere. The ISS is not designed for the level of protection that is required.

If one were going to retask the ISS, it would be best to retask it for an NEO task.

Romanus
2015-May-01, 05:22 PM
My personal option would be to boost it to an orbit where it could stay stable for centuries, but still remain accessible for study; even unmanned, it could make a useful kind of "super-LDEF", depending on what we wanted to put aboard it.

cjameshuff
2015-May-01, 05:43 PM
It's not designed for the radiation environment, thermal environment, or for the reduction in power that would result from operating at Mars. It's old hardware, designed and built under political compromises, and which is increasingly difficult to support. Some components have had mechanical failures, others are just aging or built using outdated materials and technologies. There will also be political, language, software, and standards issues to obtaining and working with the various pieces of design documentation needed to make modifications to make the hardware suitable for other purposes. Anyone who'd be interested in doing something like this would be better off adapting something like a Bigelow habitat.

It would make more sense to boost it up to a storage orbit for eventual salvage...it does represent a large amount of valuable materials in orbit, and a target for future study as Romanus points out. However, there's nobody with the capability to make use of it or plans to produce such capabilities, and it would be quite costly to do.

JackWindu
2015-May-01, 06:43 PM
Thanks everyone! Also, thanks for not treating me like an idiot for asking the question.

Glom
2015-May-01, 06:52 PM
The first component was launched in 1998. 24 years isn't that bad a run I suppose.

Swift
2015-May-01, 07:57 PM
The first component was launched in 1998. 24 years isn't that bad a run I suppose.
How long does an airplane last? (http://www.airspacemag.com/need-to-know/what-determines-an-airplanes-lifespan-29533465/?no-ist)


"Aircraft lifespan is established by the manufacturer," explains the Federal Aviation Administration's John Petrakis, "and is usually based on takeoff and landing cycles. The fuselage is most susceptible to fatigue, but the wings are too, especially on short hauls where an aircraft goes through pressurization cycles every day." Aircraft used on longer flights experience fewer pressurization cycles, and can last more than 20 years. "There are 747s out there that are 25 or 30 years old," says Petrakis.


So, in comparison, doesn't seem like a bad run.

slang
2015-May-02, 07:09 AM
Thanks everyone! Also, thanks for not treating me like an idiot for asking the question.

You're not the first to ask, and most probably won't be the last. It's a fun question because the answers will likely lead the person to learn a lot about what's actually involved in keeping that little station thingy up there :)

Trebuchet
2015-May-02, 02:44 PM
Maintenance cost even in LEO will be skyrocketing by 2024 (latest proposed end date for the ISS ). I hate to think how much it will be if it went to Mars.

Maintenance cost in that case would be zero, because it isn't practical to catch up with it to repair or resupply. Making it robust enough to make the trip, however, would be a serious problem.

Swift
2015-May-04, 05:38 PM
I thought this article from Laboratory Equipment magazine (http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/articles/2015/05/modularity-microgravity-how-iss-state-art-15-years-later?et_cid=4550680&et_rid=54636800&type=headline) was an interesting take on things. Modular designs for new laboratories is apparently the "in" thing now, and in that sense, the ISS is very state-of-the-art.


ISS design engineers constructed the laboratory to provide a standard set of services and supplies, such as electrical power, water cooling, piping, connectivity and access to the vacuum of space through valves. Establishing this standard actually enhances the already modular aspects of Destiny, enabling the easy integration of new equipment and experiments.

The backbone of the Destiny lab is its multiple payload racks, which are about the size of a refrigerator, that hold laboratory equipment and supplies. The moveable racks have multiple sections inside, most of which are arranged in a locker-type configuration. Once installed into a rack, the locker can accommodate up to eight different types of research equipment. The lockers can then be stripped down to yet another level inside the racks to accommodate even more apparatus.

The most important aspect of the racks is that they are movable. While they are placed in a certain location inside the module for operation, the astronauts can reconfigure where the facilities are placed as time passes and research objectives change.