Para lá do Bojador

«10 years ago today, Expedition 1 Commander Bill Shepherd and Flight Engineers Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko climbed aboard the International Space Station, marking the first of 3652 days of continuous occupation so far. I think that on that day a decade ago, we truly became a space-faring species. Since that day, 200 men and women from more than a dozen nations have stayed aboard the station, living there, playing there, working there, and yes, even doing some science there.

The ISS has the potential to fulfill most of those desires, if we so choose. That may not be obvious now, though. It started off well, back in the planning stages, but like any multi-billion dollar project, so much pork was added that it became a feeding trough for politicians. For quite some time, what we got was a $100 billion orbiting platform that couldn’t do a whole lot of science or exploration.

NASA has plans to be a part of the ISS until 2020 at least, and President Obama’s NASA budget authorization, recently passed by Congress, also funds ISS for another decade. We have another 3653 days, at least, to use the orbiting platform. What shall we do with them?»

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