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The International Space Station: The first 25 years

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Mr Jin Yu.

The ISS has been over 25 years in the making and stands together with the Large Hadron Collider as one of the largest and most complex international programmes ever undertaken. Like the LHC , the Station’s history has been beset by many technical problems and cost overruns that have several times brought it close to cancellation. The complexity of the project is partly due to its international nature, which has in times of difficulty been its strongest element and ultimately its saviour.

This lecture will trace the history of the programme seen through the eyes of the European partner from Ronald Reagan’s invitation to participate in 1984 to the completion of the Station’s assembly earlier this year.

The various aspects of the design and its evolution including the effects of the major redesign in 1993 that brought the Russians into the programme, will be summarised and the challenges of an assembly sequence that required a total of over 40 Space Shuttle flights to complete will be discussed.

The complexity of operating and maintaining such a huge infrastructure and its crew of six using control centres and supply ships provided by the U.S., Russian, Europe and Japan will be addressed along with some of the major lessons learnt so far.

Finally, with a view to assessing whether it was all worth it, an overview of the scientific achievements to date and a look forward to what is planned for further ISS utilisation will be given.

This talk is part of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Cambridge Branch series.

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