Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Geek Speak => Topic started by: syhprum on 06/09/2019 20:27:09

Title: What does it cost to run the ISS
Post by: syhprum on 06/09/2019 20:27:09
I have read that a bottle of water on the ISS costs $20,000 is there any scientific justification for spending this kind of money or is the justification only political ie does it reduce the chance of a major war ?
Title: Re: What does it cost to run the ISS
Post by: Janus on 06/09/2019 21:53:58
I believe it costs NASA 3-4 billion/yr to operate the station.   Now my question is, what do you mean by "scientific justification"? There is certainly a lot of science done on the station:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_research_on_the_International_Space_Station
Title: Re: What does it cost to run the ISS
Post by: evan_au on 06/09/2019 23:34:29
Quote from: OP
a bottle of water on the ISS costs $20,000
It currently costs about $20,000 per kilogram to launch into Low Earth Orbit, where the ISS orbits.
So that would probably be 1 liter of water.

The US part of the ISS recycles water, so you could probably get 2 liters of drinking water for your $20,000 liter launched to the ISS.

However, the reusable rockets being developed by Space-X and Blue Origin look set to significantly reduce the cost to launch payloads - by at least a factor of 2, perhaps more.

So whatever the current value, it is about to double (or more).
(Russian rockets to the ISS are already considerably cheaper than Shuttle launches - so there has been a value boost already.)

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is there any scientific justification for spending this kind of money
It is a good platform for learning about the medical issues of long-duration spaceflight, with routine trips of 6 months, and sometimes 1 year.
- It is a good platform for civilian Earth studies.
- It tests out procedures for international cooperation, which will be essential for efficient space exploration.

To put things into context, the US intelligence services spend far more than NASA. Hubble has been NASA's workhorse of visible-light astronomy for nearly 30 years (launched April 1990). US spy agencies have been launching bigger versions of Hubble every few months since before 1990. So I think NASA's money is well-spent; the whole world benefits.

Historically, when maritime explorers set sail in ships, they made many short journeys close to the coast to test out equipment and procedures, before venturing out into deeper waters (like Columbus). Without step-by-step development of coastal ships, there would be no USA of today, and what value do you put on that? The ISS is a coast-hugging ship, getting people ready for longer voyages.

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is the justification only political ie does it reduce the chance of a major war ?
You could argue that the Space Race between Russia and the USA in the late 1950s and through the 1960s started as them boasting about how powerful were their respective ICBMs (nuclear missile launchers).

However, in the 1960s, they both developed rockets that were far too big and too painful to fuel to be any practical use as nuclear missile launchers - it became political. In this sense, the manned program (propaganda) probably diverted some money away from the nuclear weapons program.

The current arch-enemy of the USA is China. Trump's current push for NASA to return to the Moon Real Soon Now is probably driven by the expectation that China is soon going to put Taikonauts on the Moon. Donald does not want China to take over another thing that the Donald considers "his". So this is again political and propaganda.
Title: Re: What does it cost to run the ISS
Post by: syhprum on 07/09/2019 16:25:08
I understand the intelligence department have 6 Hubble size devices in stock which they have offered to NASA but they don't have the funds to use them