February 29, 2012
ISS Space Agency Heads Meeting On Thursday
Heads of space agencies are gathering on Thursday to discuss the future of the International Space Station (ISS).
The heads of the agencies will be discussing cooperation in space exploration, the maintenance of the space station, and its potential benefits for humanity.
The mission of the ISS was originally scheduled to be over by 2015, but many countries hope to expand its lifetime until at least 2020.
So far, every country but Canada that is involved with the orbiting laboratory has signed up to extend the mission life.
"Not having committed to being on the space station for another five years certainly makes our partners wonder whether we will continue to be part of space at all," Iain Christie, president of the Neptec Design Group, told a reporter for the Canadian Press.
"Europeans, Japanese, Americans, everybody else who is part of the space station has said they have renewed their commitments; Canada has not," he said.
The Canadian Space Agency told the news agency that Canada is in the process of evaluating the possibility of continued operations through 2020.
Chuck Black, the treasurer of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, said it is possible that CSA may be trying to renegotiate its agreement to get more Canadian astronauts up to the ISS.
"I don't think it's reasonable to assume that ... the Canadian Space Agency aren't going to try to renegotiate the agreement so they can get one or two more astronauts up there between now and 2020," Black told CTV.ca.
However, he also said that Canada's space program may be facing budget restraints of between 5- and 10-percent cuts.
"My understanding is that some departments, including the Canadian Space Agency, are going to be cut back (and) there might be concerns there," Black told the news agency.
He said that not being a part of the extended International Space Station mission would hold up achievements for Canada.
"It is going to hold up some of our Canadian advancements, it's going to hold up some of our Canadian science experiments," he told CTV.ca.
The station's five international partners will be meeting in Quebec City in Canada.
On the Net:
- International Space Station (ISS)
- Neptec Design Group
- Canadian Space Agency
- Canadian Space Commerce Association