There was a lot more hinting about letting private companies run experiments to see if they could find out things in microgravity that would lead to more reasons to keep it up there, but that never quite materialized. I can see why the Russians want to do one of their own.
I’d be curious to see what could be done with Bigelow Aerospace, SpaceX and NASA, which is why I’ll be paying close attention to what Bigelow’s module does once NASA mounts it on the ISS for a test.
“The debate over how long to pay for the International Space Station is something that has long loomed over the program, one expert said.
‘This is a little bit like smoker’s cough. It’s something that nobody wants to notice,’ said John Logsdon, professor emeritus of political science and international affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in Washington, D.C.
An expert in space policy and history, Logsdon said his bottom line is that ‘the odds, in my view, are heavily against the continuation of the station post 2020.’
Logsdon told SPACE.com that he did not think it likely that either Japan or Europe have any enthusiasm to pony up money for the ISS after 2020.
‘That presumes that there’s no major breakthrough,’ Logsdon said, referring to any potential discovery on the station that turns out to have either great scientific or economic value.
Looming in the background of the space station’s future beyond 2020 is talk by Russia of starting a second-generation space station on its own, Logsdon said.
‘And of course you have the Chinese station in the same time period,’ he added.”