The report, performed by a National Research Council (NRC) panel of scientists, found the space station a key resource for the development of technologies required for future exploration, but lacking in manpower and direction.
“[Our] charges included a review of…whether the station was really important for space exploration, and we think it is,” said panel chair Mary Jane Osborn, a professor with the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, Connecticut.(link)
No it's not important for space exploration. It's egg head welfare for science buffs. How does boosting the number of people on that flying white elephant decrease the costs of going into space? How does it increase the chances that regular people get into space? How does it lead towards NASA getting to the Moon for that matter?
It doesn't. And that's the problem. All it really does is give the mad scientists more opportunities to do research...
“It’s very vital indeed since otherwise, you don’t really know what you’re doing,” Osborn said of an integrated ISS plan, adding that increasing station crew size will be a boon for scientific research. “It would allow a significant improvement.”
And there they go ahead and admit it: it's good for research. They're just window dressing their request so that it seems like it's in line with the vision for space exploration. In reality, I don't think these people give one ayota about space exporation. For them this is about research.
We've been spending the last 30 years "researching" among other things how mildew grows in space. The first time NASA went to the Moon we didn't need a huge Internationally supported space station to support a darn thing. And mildew growth just didn't seem like such a pressing issue down here.
NASA just went. They planted a flag in the ground, and spent the next 30 years trying to justify their existence by scientific research.
Research is all fine and dandy. But most of it apparently can be done on terra firma and that wasn't the original promise of space exploration.
The original promise of space exploration was that humanity would one day reach the stars. Maybe we should get back to keeping that promise?