US astronaut says ISS results will follow
23 October 2012, 17:08
Baikonur - A US astronaut departing this week for the International
Space Station said on Monday that the bulk of the scientific benefits
from the orbiting laboratory will be seen over the coming decade.
has been 12 years since construction began on the space station, and
some have questioned whether the estimated $100bn spent to date is worth
Nasa astronaut Kevin Ford will blasts off on a Soyuz
craft from the Russian-leased Baikonur spacer centre in Kazakhstan on
Tuesday together with Russian colleagues Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny
"The first ten years were really intensive in the
construction side of it, bringing all the pieces together and really
getting the science enabled," Ford said at press conference on the eve
of the launch, speaking from behind a glass screen designed to ensure
the astronauts do not contract illnesses before their mission.
Portland, Indiana-born Ford said the station would now enter its "utilization phase."
"We're going to learn the bulk of everything we know about the science that we're doing up there in the next decade," he said.
the three men blasting off Tuesday, only Ford has spent any time in
orbit. He spent two weeks in space as pilot of the space shuttle
Discovery in 2009 on a mission to transport scientific equipment to the
The U.S. space program has been in a vulnerable position
since the decommissioning of the U.S. Shuttle fleet in 2011, which left
Russia's Soviet-designed Soyuz craft as the only means for international
astronauts to reach the space station.
Some relief has come in the form of commercial cargo vessels.
this month, California-based SpaceX successfully delivered a half-ton
of supplies craft called Dragon to the ISS, the first official shipment
under a $1.6bn contract with Nasa. The contract calls for 12 such
The departure of that capsule and a spacewalk to carry
out repair operations on the station will be among the first operations
to be handled by the incoming team.
"We really face a lot of tasks
that we'll concentrate on right off the bat when we get aboard," Ford
said. "After the spacewalk comes down, hopefully we'll have a little
time to catch our breath."
US astronaut Sunita Williams, Russia's
Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide of Japan, who have been at the ISS
since mid-July, are scheduled to return to earth next month.