If This is True, The ROI on ISS
Just Went WAY WAY Down

7:30 PM

Had I not read this news on both CNN and the Washington Post's web sites today, I would think it were some sort of Internet myth gone crazy. But here are two respected members of the "traditional media" reporting something so shocking, it seems impossible to believe. Here's CNN's version published on their SciTechBlog:
"After a decade of costly construction, the International Space Station is nearing completion. But NASA won’t have long to enjoy the achievement. According to an article from the Washington Post, NASA space station program manager Michael T. Suffredini raised eyebrows when, at a public hearing last month, he declared flatly that NASA plans to de-orbit the station in 2016. That means the $100 billion research facility, which has been circling Earth since 1998, will ultimately burst into flames as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere and crashes into the Pacific Ocean."
So NASA, the planet's most successful space agency, plans to sh*tcan the ISS in about six years? According to the CNN blog, they quote WaPo as saying this:
"The rap on the space station has always been that it was built primarily to give the space shuttle somewhere to go. Now, with the shuttle being retired at the end of 2010, the station is on the spot. U.S. astronauts will be able to reach the station only by getting rides on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft."
Yes, NASA is killing the Shuttle program, this is not news. But spending north of $100 billion on what now seems like a doomed space penthouse is a supreme waste of taxpayer dollars. The ISS is NASA's crown jewel, their very reason for being. Without the ISS, what does NASA have left on their plate, Mars? Right, let's blow more billions to explore that wasteland. Oh WOW, water on Mars! Ice on Mars! Big whoop...can anyone explain why any of that is worth the money they are spending on that rock?

And how about the Moon? Wasn't the ISS supposed to be the launching pad for future Moon missions, a "Mother Ship" for those Next Gen space travelers who would be flying yet-to-be-designed craft to the Moon to put up real estate signs?

I want very much for this story to be a hoax. But in numerous places across the web, the WaPo article again quotes NASA's space station program manager, Michael T. Suffredini as saying in reference to the ISS:
"In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and de-orbit the spacecraft."
I cannot find it in my aviator's heart to mince words here:
After paying so much for the ISS, after spending so much on shuttle flights to supply it, staff it and build it, I cannot as a NASA fan support any decision to scrap the space station. I fully expected this wonderful project to be around for generations in some form, and now, just eleven years after on-orbit construction began, NASA says publicly they plan to kill it off. Should they proceed with this ill-conceived idea, I will join what I presume to be many of their supporters in losing any and all respect I had for the management at NASA who made this decision.
With the oncoming debut of commercial space travel, people with names like Branson and Rutan will be the ones pushing the envelope of space travel, not so much to find "galaxies far, far away", but to make a buck. As this next wave of space travel emerges and matures, without the ISS to anchor NASA, what will the agency become?

If NASA goes ahead and kills off the ISS, against the competition for space headlines from the commercial guys and without a real, strategic reason to conquer our Moon, NASA could relegate itself to nothing more than a listing on Wikipedia. As the proud agency who invented space travel, it will be sad to see them let the leadership role in that endeavor slip through their hands. How can we the taxpayer be assured that the "Next Big Thing" from NASA won't also end up in a flaming ball of very expensive but worthless space junk?

Of course, I am but one voice. As this story is just breaking today, I am pretty sure my one lonely song of opposition will soon join hordes of others as we create a pounding, ear-shattering scream to protest sending the ISS to a watery grave in the Pacific well before its time.

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