Editor’s note:These brief extracts are paraphrased from live webcast and may not be fully correct.
How important is 2020 for ISS operations?
ESA: We would be stupid to stop then. There is no deadline, the only question is how long can we keep the International Space Station in orbit. There is a future in low-Earth orbit. The question is how long will the ISS be the right hardware to use? That is a question of benefit versus cost.
Is Japan developing a human-rated version of HTV?
JAXA: JAXA is preparing our questions to the government. We are trying to prepare for this.
ESA: Who will do what? It is not good to have a ‘single point of failure’ as we have presently with the Soyuz being the only human transport spaceship to the ISS. We need to continue cooperation and decide on this matter. Competition is important but only in research, not in basics such as crew transportation.
Roscosmos: Soyuz and commercial transportation can complement each other supporting delivery to ISS. We are not happy either to only have one crew transportation system. We wish all the luck to NASA and the commercial companies.
What contributions are the partners expecting other than financial?
NASA: Intellectual contributions. Intellectual innovation is the most important contribution to the future of humans.
Should the ISS be seen as a technology test-bed for future missions?
What is the most significant contribution of ISS research to fundamental physics?
NASA: One example: AMS-02. Is just one of a suite of four instruments to [be orbited on] the ISS. If all are installed, it will offer an unprecedented view of particles from space.
Common strategy post-ISS era?
Roscosmos: It is continuous work. We have no concrete plans, we welcome any thoughts from our partners. There are many interesting areas such as docking systems which will enable us to complement each other and be more robust.
ESA: We do not yet have a common plan, but we are working on that. There is a future for low-Earth orbit and there is a link between low-Earth orbit and further exploration. Exploration of the Moon, Mars and low-Earth orbit are all linked.
We would like to look at multiple smaller space stations keeping the international character. An ESA scenario does not mean anything, what we need is a common plan.
CSA: ISS is already a test-bed for future exploration.
Imagine that your financial ministry offered you unlimited budget but you have to convince them that the money will be well spent. What would you say in 30 seconds?
CSA: Space is the future of humankind.
Roscosmos: Today we cannot measure our life without space, navigation, weather prediction, natural-disaster monitoring. That is our future; we have inherited precious capital from our predecessors and we need to [continue].
NASA: I would first congratulate my financial minister: Investment in space is investment in economic growth. It has challenged the human species to go beyond what was thought possible. There can be no greater investment in human growth
JAXA: Growing a reliable relation with our partners. Peaceful cooperation is hard to justify but if we discuss deeply we get to the real benefit.