With NASA's commitment to the International Space Station (ISS) now all but certain for at least through the coming decade, serious consideration may be given to extended US in-space operations in the 2020s, when presumably the ISS will exceed its sell by date. Indeed, both ESA and Roscosmos, in addition to their unambiguous current commitment to ISS, have published early concept studies for extended post-ISS habitation (e.g., http://www.esa.int/esaHS/index.html, http://www.russianspaceweb.com/opsek.html and references therein). In the US, engineers and scientists have for a decade been working both within and outside NASA to assess one consistent candidate for long-term post-ISS habitation and operations, although interrupted by changing priorities for human space flight, Congressional direction, and constrained budgets. The evolving work of these groups is described here, which may have renewed relevance with the recent completion of a major review of the nation s human space flight program.
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration