The International Space Station

.. in hospitals. Cyber surgery, a type of virtual reality, will be used in the extreme cases of a medical emergency (4). The human body will be thoroughly studied while in space to conclude if there are any long term affects on the body during space travel. The experiments will be broken into three basic categories: bones, tissues, and cells. The space station will have a special laboratory called the Bioreactor which will reproduce human tissues and cells.

The Bioreactor will be able to create Cancerous cell tissue called tumors from a few individual cancer cells. Some think that while in space, the space station will find healthier alternatives to a cure for Cancer other than the very harmful chemotherapy. Scientists plan to make healthy tissue outside the body in a space laboratory and then transfer the tissue into a body with damaged tissue. This is possible because in space cells are not crushed by the pressure of gravity. They grow three dimensionally like those which occur naturally in the body (Our health 5). Besides cures for cancer, how to fight bone loss will be considered.

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Bone loss is one of the major reasons astronauts cannot stay in space for extended periods of time. Once bone loss can be controlled, NASA will be capable of bringing all men and women back in perfect health (Chang 13). I view the space shuttle program as a stepping stone to the ultimate program that will guarantee prolonged efforts in microgravity.. Ultimately our hope is to be able to crystallize proteins in microgravity, conduct all x-ray data collection experiments in space and transmit the data to Earth for processing. This can only be done in a space station (Our health 9).

One of the reasons the International Space Station is so important is because it offers the chance for experiments to be done at all times during the year instead of making scientists wait for weeks, months, or even years to get their experiments tested. The space station will mean that industry will become more involved in the space research which will benefit both areas into the future (6). On the space station, real industrial improvement will be a reality. Semiconductors have already been grown that are of a record quality. They have all been created as a thin film by the Wakeshield Facility. It creates a vacuum larger than one ever created on Earth.

This leads to improvements in the computer industry. The improvements could mean billions of dollars for industry (Industrial processes 7). Oil refinement provides the United States will over 90 billion dollars revenue annually. Zeolights, which are used in the refinement process of petroleum products, are being enhanced dramatically in space. This could create a 400 million dollar increase in the United States economy (7).

All industry will be effected because space does not have the limitations of Earth. Due to microgravity, crystal production is not hindered. Ergo, scientists can concentrate on the phenomenon of solidification, crystal growth, fluid flow, and combustion like they have never been able to before which translates into large profits for all countries involved in construction and care of the International Space Station (8). Microgravity is very unique. It will be the factor that affects and inspires the production of many of the products that have not even been dreamed of yet by inventors and scientists. By delving into the practical uses of microgravity, it is easy to see that many new alloys, ceramics, glasses, polymers, and semiconductors can be improved, redesigned, or created (Industrial Processes 1). When viewing the whole spectrum of the space station, many scientists have agreed that microgravity is the most important factor.

It could create treatments for previously incurable diseases, better materials and alloys for industry, and more efficient forms of fuel and petroleum products. Microgravity is an important factor because compared to the gravity on earth, space has one-millionth the force pressing down on objects. This accounts for the willingness of people to spend billions of dollar on experiments that can only be performed in one place, the International Space Station (DiChristina 77). Besides increasing the worth of the economy, the International Space Station will also help earth science research. The Optical Window will help study the daily buildup and positions of the clouds. This may help to predict droughts and therefore prepare vegetation.

Also available will be key information about our atmosphere. To test in the greatest detail some of the fundamental laws that govern our physical world, it is often necessary to go beyond the surface of the Earth..Thus, NASA and its academic, industrial, and international partners will use the microgravity environment of the ISS to conduct fundamental scientific studies that have as their goal to contribute to the worlds supply of knowledge, which will one day enable the technology of future generations (Fundamental Knowledge 6) Many people consider the International Space Station a excellent chance for improvement of medical, technological, and industrial processes, but there are a few skeptics who are unsure of any benefit at all. These people have questioned the purposes and objectives of the scientists who believe it is a service. Many state that there is no substantial evidence to prove that the International Space Station will fulfill any of the aspirations people have pressed upon it. Others point to the fact that it may only be able to remain in space for ten years which is not long enough to do anything that is very conclusive.

Still, others contend that the International Space Station is a small price to pay for the usefulness it will provide in the future. The mixed reviews have left nothing but confusion in their path. No matter what anyone says or thinks, only time will tell. Since the Cold War, Russia has fallen from the status of superpower, and its space program has become almost non-existent. Since Russia first joined the International Space Station team, the Russians have been continually behind schedule but always promising the job is almost finished.

They have frequently run out of funds which had to be given to them by the United States and other partners, and several times they threatened to drop out of the project all together. Russia is only the United States first problem. Although it is called the International Space Station and is considered a multinational project, it is obvious that United States dollars are supporting most of the sagging project (89). The cost is one of the most debated topics on the subject. Once having a price as low as eight to fifteen billion dollars, the cost has since skyrocketed to the exorbitant amount of over 96 billion dollars by the end of the project in 2006.

The International Space Station is already over a decade late, and the price is soaring into the billions of dollars over the original price tag. Some are beginning to wonder if the International Space Station is a floating white elephant. Boeing admitted it has underestimated the potential cost by as much as 800 million dollars just for its contract alone (88). On the other hand, some people believe it is worth the price. For nine dollars less than the average American pays for snack or junk food yearly, NASA can build the International Space Station which could become a scientific pinnacle from which the benefits would be felt for years (Abatemarco 9). Some critics wonder whether any scientific progress that the space station will make will create a high enough profit to make up for the gigantic cost of the station.

Some scientists are concerned that the space station will have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Most of the functions of the space station have disappeared. NASA is mortgaging its future for the next twenty years (Kluger 90). Some even disagree on whether microgravity is a valid determinant. Not everyone thinks that research on microgravity will be the least beneficial. Some say that it is one of the least important factors you can have (DiChristina 76).

In the end it is debatable whether the International Space Station will give us enough scientific information to make the planning, cost, and maintenance worthwhile. One of the main topic to be researched, protein crystals are fragile and with a single bump, which happens a lot in space, the project is ruined (Kluger 91). There is no information of yet that is going to tell anyone the outcome of the experiments on the International Space Station. It is a complex machine that may create fantastic results or become a large waste of time and effort, but until the world tries, it will never know which might be the most disappointing thing of all. For now, all anyone has is hope for a brighter future, and the chance that the International Space Station may bring them a step closer to that reality.

The orbiting laboratory serves as a symbol of our future. A future that embodies the dreams of our children and that promises untold discoveries for the next millennium. One that fulfills our innate human nature to explore. And one that benefits all people of all nations. (Goldin 11) The International Space Station is the beginning.

It is the beginning of a world that is working towards a better understanding of everything around it. Astronomy.