A next generation space station
This paper presents the conclusions of the Team Project "A Next Generation Space Station" (NGSS) of the International Space University's (ISU) 2012 Space Studies Program, held at the campus of Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL, USA. The three main objectives of the team project were, (1), to look into the shortcomings and the successes of Mir and the International Space Station (ISS), to identify the current and envisioned use of the ISS and a potential future space station, (2), to identify and describe the design drivers for an NGSS assuming a development period from 2015 until 2025, and (3), to describe the sequence of events during the transition phase from ISS to an NGSS. The partners of the International Space Station have committed to operate ISS until at least 2020. Negative publicity surrounded the end of the Shuttle program in 2011 when no new adequate follow-on program was in place. To avoid this situation at the end of ISS operations, and given the typical development time of space projects, plans for a next generation space station should be ready by 2015 with development activities starting as soon as possible after that. A main focus for the design drivers is on providing access to emerging space nations that have so far not had access to ISS. In addition, the team looked at self-sustained solutions in orbit, and investigated the general development for key enabling technologies which should lead to a feasible and well supported NGSS model. The reasons to continue operating a manned space station are many. The ever-growing use of space-based assets in all parts of daily life brings with it a need for in-orbit testing and development. Also an NGSS must be an integral part of human space exploration plans as budget constraints will be a main factor of future ambitions, not allowing two separate programs. Space tourism is on the brink of starting serious business and would eventually look to longer stays in space. Last but not least, it would be a matter of global cultural pride to support a next generation space station. As is ISU's credo, the 31 approach brings together Intercultural, International and Interdisciplinary ideas for a continuation of the human presence in space by means of an NGSS.