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Construction of Internation Space Station

Here is a flash animation showing construction timeline of International Space Station.

Amazing feat of engineering miles above the earth. What we don’t think generally about is that as it has been built, several old parts have been taken off as the new parts were being added. It’s evolution of a concept.

I watched a documentary some days back about the challenges faced by astronauts while assembling these parts in space. There is always danger of cutting open your space suit. This would not only leak the oxygen out, but could expose human body to ultra freezing cold in space and space radiation.

Or some space junk, even a tiny piece of some old satellite, or a small loose rock from an asteroid could hit the astronaut. Given that ISS travels at about 27000 km/s, such a small piece could strike the ISS or space-walking astronaut at tremendous relative velocity and could hit it like a missile.

ISS is a joint venture of several countries. I always wondered why India did not become part of ISS program. Googling for the terms leads to certain articles that describe the financial investment as the main reason. That sounds right.

It’s not just question of money. It’s more of priorities. India’s space exploration is centered more towards enhanced weather prediction and communication improvement. Investing in long term or permanent human presence in space does not fit well in that picture. However there is one area where considerable knowledge can be gained that can be useful for a country like India. Sustainable use of resources and recycling.

But space exploration is not the only way to explore sustainable use of resources and recycling. It might even be possible to set up a underwater station. Even such a human habitat would need to entirely support itself.  Lot of insights about sustainable living could be gained from such an experiment.


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