Someone, please correct me if I am under an incorrect assumption.
The ISS requires the shuttle to boost its orbit. Without regular boosts, the ISS will fall.
NASA will almost certainly not fly the shuttle again until this accident is completely understood and resolved. God only knows how long that will be… it was over 2 years after Challanger, wasn’t it?
Once again, The ISS requires the shuttle to boost its orbit. Without regular boosts, the ISS will fall.
Now, I know there is a soyuz lifeboat up there for the Astronauts/Cosmonauts, so at least the people aren’t in jeoprady, but what about the actual station? How long can it survive without the Shuttle? Is there another manner for it to boost its altitude without the Shuttle?
Unless I’m mistaken, the ISS has its own manuevering thrusters. Progress supply ships and Soyuz crew transfer ships can still be sent up to keep it supplied, and those can also be used for orbital boosts.
The ISS can stay in operation without the shuttle. The only thing they can’t do easily is add new parts to it.
It doesn’t require, nor even use, the shuttle for orbital adjustments. The ISS has its own attitude adjustment thrusters to accomplish this. As long as the ISS can be supplied with fuel, it can maintain it’s orbit indefinitely.
The ISS does certainly require boosts every so often, and it may be that sometimes the Shuttle supplied those boosts, but it by no means requires the Shuttle. Any sort of rocket at all can boost an orbit, so long as you can attach it securely. Even at that, it doesn’t need to be all that secure: You can do it gradually, with very low thrust.
But an orbital boost is, in fact, a “small” adjustment. If I recall the figures correctly, to boost an object in low earth orbit by 10 km would only require a [symbol]D[/symbol]V of less than a hundred mph.
It’s been mentioned previously before, but I was under the impression that the russians sent up regular unmanned auto-supply flights.
The real problem would be when the guys on the ISS have to go home, and they need a new crew. The shuttle usually delivers a new crew to the ISS. The russians are capable of doing it, technically speaking, but somebody might need to light a fire under their ass and hand them a big check to handle the logistics.
I got the impression that the “boosts” from the Space Shuttle were sort of the icing on the cake: a nice bonus, but not really neccessary, and that it was more a question of the Shuttle using some of its fuel–since it would be landing soon anyway–and thus allowing the ISS to save its own fuel for later, rather than keeping the station from immediate disaster.
The Soyuz ‘lifeboat’ needs to be replaced twice a year anyway. Normally, they have a crew bring up a new one, visit for several days, then return to Earth in the old one. There’s no reason they can’t have the replacement ISS crew fly up the new Soyuz and have the old ISS crew return in the old Soyuz.