Science News

International Space Station Reconfigured For Commercial Spacecraft

International Space Station

Today, the International Space Station (ISS) relocated a storage module to make room for an additional docking port intended for commercial spacecraft use. This is one of the first changes to the ISS’s configuration since its completion in 2011, when the relocated module (Permanent Multipurpose Module) was bolted to the Unity module during the Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission.

This reconfiguration officially updates the ISS from a station configured for Space Shuttle docks to a station configured to accept docking from commercial spacecraft such as SpaceX’s Dragon and Boeing’s upcoming Crew Space Transportation (CST) capsule. After the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, NASA chose to follow the commercial model of space travel to Low Earth Orbit (LEO)  a model in which spacecraft are “rented” from companies such as SpaceX and Boeing instead of being developed by NASA.

With the LEO taxi situation sorted out, NASA can turn to the issue of building a deep-space craft to transport humans to Mars by the 2030s. NASA administrator Charles Bolden is quoted by NBC News as having said that “a robust low-Earth-0rbit infrastructure” is necessary for a future deep space mission.

You can’t get (to Mars) if you don’t have a robust low-Earth-orbit infrastructure.

The mission was carried out earlier this morning from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas in tandem with Mobile Servicing System (MSS) Operations Center at the Canadian Space Agency at 9:08 a.m. EDT.

Previously, Immortal News covered Bolden’s assertion that commercial companies will not go to Mars without NASA’s assistance. At this time, the arrangement that the U.S. space agency has with commercial companies seems to back this assertion. For instance, NASA previously awarded $6.8 billion to Boeing and SpaceX in order to produce a new generation of commercial space taxis to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Do you think that NASA using commercial space travel corporations is a good idea? Do you think that we are going to be able to travel to Mars by 2030? Let us know in the comments section below!

The video below shows a time-lapse of the module relocation.

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