The details behind NASA’s next move and speculation over whether the $160 billion International Space Station will be abandoned is still percolating, but the theories behind the shuttle’s abandoning later this year are by no means entirely new. Increased activity from the Sun has served as a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. And it seems this same speculation is getting an interesting amount of vindication as talks over whether the ISS is to be abandoned by November begin.
NASA still contends, thanks to a plan to launch new crew and supplies to the station in November, that there is nothing to worry about. The crew have still been in near constant contact with Earth via radio and video feeds, and as a result the space station has some of the best updating of any previous program.
But some are saying we will soon be hearing a different theory as the Earth is gradually pushed into an ever increasingly unpredictable situation. As we begin to see more activity from the sun, some suggest, we will start to see the space program put on temporary hiatus with fears over massive interference by the sun’s CME’s and sunspots ultimately leading to a geomagnetic storm. With interest in the subject of solar disruptions at an all time high in many conspiracy theory circles, we can expect to hear more of this theory if the international community does green light abandoning the International Space Station.
But even if the station is abandoned, there is a new space project rarely spoken of in the west scheduled to go up in September of this year. The “Heavenly Palace” Tiangong 1 has been confirmed for launch. Unlike other programs involved in experimentation in space, Tiangong 1 was launched independent of the others, and is supposed to be run exclusively by China. Given China’s rise in economic power in recent years, the few familiar with the program have begun watching this upcoming launch with interest. Will Tiangong 1 become the next International Space Station? Of course the timing of the scheduled launch has gained a level of interest as well.
What does the future hold for the space program not only in the west, but worldwide? It seems as we attempt to close gaps and find common ground to cooperate, we propel ourselves ever increasingly forward. One of the side effects of this increase in cooperation internationally, however, is the need to improve trust and international safety standards as well. While the amount of theorizing surrounding the International Space Station seems to outweigh the actual evidence offered at this point, perhaps we will find more in the future. And if that happens, will it serve to bring humanity closer to the stars or impede our progress? We can only hope it isn’t the latter.