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This is how the International Space Station will end

This is how the International Space Station will end

there The end of the International Space Stationthat revolves around the earth For more than twenty years, it is specific. First of all, it was decided how It will end: combustion in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Since it was built, it was clear that sooner or later the International Space Station would become obsolete, and now the time is approaching. when Will it be the fateful moment? NASA and the other agencies involved in this science adventure monitor the orbital station’s conditions on a daily basis; Thanks to the data in its possession, NASA is confident that the space focus can remain intact until 2030, although the latest comprehensive analysis predicted the data until 2028.

Russian assistance. How will the investment be withdrawn? A group of engineers from NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos have already defined some aspects of “re-entry” methods (inspired by what has been done with Russia’s MIR station), with the primary goal of not causing damage. According to the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bengineers, some Russian Progress spacecraft (those that bring materials and experiments to the ISS) will be launched, which, along with a series of ignition of their engines and thanks to them, will gradually lower the orbit of the station. A recent NASA report reads that three Progress spacecraft may be needed, as well as eventual assistance from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft.

The trajectory of the International Space Station will be like this giant object to sink into Ship migration area in the Pacific Oceanwhere there is a so-called Satellite Cemetery. Weighing around 400 tons, the space station is the largest man-made object ever to orbit Earth. And since the larger an object, the more likely its atmosphere will not burn completely, it is easy to understand that NASA is studying the re-entry plan in detail.

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bad memory. In particular, the US space agency wants to avoid a repeat of what happened to the previous space station, Skylab. In this case, in fact, the delay in the launch of the space shuttle and the accompanying expansion of the atmosphere after unexpected solar activity, caused this space station to fall uncontrollably and some pieces ended up scattered all over Australia.

The largest, after all, had large dimensions: like those of a gas cylinder. “The risk of a space station falling to Earth is out of the question,” explains Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who specializes in tracking objects in Earth’s orbit.

Are you going to rotate? Because of the solar panels, it is possible for the space station to start spinning in a completely uncontrollable way. It will not be quite simple because the station cannot be divided into units.

The construction of the space station required 42 tasks, and today the structure is said to weigh about 420,000 kilograms: or rather, this is the weight it would have been if it were on Earth and not at an altitude of about 400 km, where gravity makes you feel less. Almost as long as a football field, the space station boasts a living volume equal to a five- or six-bedroom home.

Every now and then, a boost. Even if the International Space Station is still in perfect condition, it cannot remain in orbit “alone” indefinitely because, from time to time, it needs a thrust to prevent its gradual attraction to Earth: this task is performed by the spacecraft that is docked on the International Space Station to bring materials to astronauts, including fuel specifically needed for these eruptions.

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If shipments of materials (and fuel) stop, the space station will remain at the mercy of gravity, and then at the mercy of Earth’s atmosphere, eventually causing it to spiral out of control. Since the station is a partnership between the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the participating countries of the European Space Agency, the decision throw it away (i.e. removing it from its operational orbit) would be the result of collective political and engineering action.

For now, NASA has pledged to keep the station in orbit until 2030, although partner agencies have yet to sign an agreement.

and what? The new space stations currently planned, first and foremost Axiom Space – which plans to send some modules to the International Space Station by 2024 – are designed in such a way that the modules themselves can detach from the main station and re-enter each independently. (Unlike the International Space Station, where the modules cannot be separated.) Christian Mander, director of production and space research at Axiom, based in Houston, explains: “Each unit will be designed with its own guidance, navigation, control and propulsion capabilities. So they will be able to fly on their own and then, when necessary, be able to detach and return through the envelope. Earth’s atmosphere independently.