The day I am writing this article is another great day for NASA, Space Shuttle, International Space Station (ISS) fans and space enthusiasts. Today is when the Space Shuttle Endeavour ends its STS-123 mission to the International Space Station.
Today is also a great day because we get to talk about the international endeavour in space - a joint effort to build the ISS. Indeed, the ISS is a remarkable achievement of many nations, a new bright star in the night sky as they say it.
What they also say is that it is a long lasting endeavour and that the future of space exploration is international as well.
We learn how to live and operate in space, we learn how to work together as an international team and that’s what gets us all tingly and excited!
This is probably what you can almost every time hear from space business officials after every successful step in space. It’s truly a fascinating journey, I’d like to agree. But are we all gonna travel the same distances? I mean, You? Me? NASA, ESA, JAXA, space agencies in Russia and China?..
Whenever it is this special day, I remember a short bit of a dialog between Mr. Ken Calvert, member of the United States House of Representatives, and Dr. Scott J. Horowitz, NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at the September 28th, 2006 hearing of The House Committee on Science “Implementing the Vision for Space Exploration: Development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle.” The dialog goes like this:
Mr. Calvert. There is competition out there today, isn’t there?
Dr. Horowitz. Yes, sir. Anybody who understands what this is all about is out there going to space. There are many other people.
Mr. Calvert. You know, I was looking at the - you know, I was commenting with my seatmate here about the Ares V and the lift capability of that, and of course, we go back and think of the old Saturn, but that has a lift capability of what, approximately 100 tons?
Dr. Horowitz. This one can lift a little more than Saturn V, about 125 metric tons.
Mr. Calvert. One hundred twenty-five metric tons. What is the heaviest lift capability we have now?
Dr. Horowitz. It is less than the small rocket you see to its left, which is on the order of 20 to 25 metric tons.
Mr. Calvert. Now, is there potentially other revenue streams that could be utilized for Ares V in other parts of the government?
Dr. Horowitz. Yes, sir, I am sure there are other people that might be interested.
Mr. Calvert. You mean, there is no country in the world at this point that can launch 125 metric tons?
Dr. Horowitz. Sir, there is nobody else who has this capability.
If it’s really an international endeavor, why do we have to talk about who has the heaviest lift capability in the world? What’s your money on - competition or collaboration?