Next week the European Space Agency robot delivery craft, Johannes Kepler, wich carries with it more than seven tonnes of propellant, supplies and oxygen, will join the other two craft.
The vehicle is carried into space by an Ariane 5 ES launch vehicle and give the European spaceflight programme increased independence. This will become important after the discontinuing of the NASA Space Shuttle program, later this year, when provisioning of the ISS will become dependent on the Russian Cosmodrome at Baikonur.
|Artists impression of "Johannes Kepler" approaching the ISS. (Credit: ESA)|
The last Space shuttle, Atlantis, will visit the ISS in June, after that other partners of NASA will supply and provide transport from and to the station.
Each shuttle launch costs NASA $ 500 million, something it can simply no longer afford. The station itself is the costliest project ever undertaken by mankind.
To say however that the station should have never been built misses the point. Occupied for more than 10 years, the station has been the only living outpost in space for that time.
Every future manned mission to space will have profited in some form from the ISS. Whether that be in how to best retrain muscles after a stay in microgravity, or experiments conducted on the effect of space on organisms.
Any future journey to the moon, or Mars, will build on lessons learned aboard the ISS.
I've realised I took a bit to come to the point here...
Anyways I'll probably write about something not space next. Although maybe the next post will be on Wednesday. I might not have enough time tomorrow.