Originally Posted by kevin
Once it's initial lifetime phase is over it's as well using the parts if possible for something else.
The Blank cheque days are over for a while, whether one likes it or not.
Just as well to do that as to merely de-orbit and summarily do away with some expensive hardware.
I say, at the end of its practical manned use, convert it into a grand, unmanned instrument platform with reserve habitation area, for supply and repair: With weather, geographical, solar data gathering instruments, or something of the sort.
Else it could be "parted out" and used as deep space modules for manned or unmanned explorations. Let that dude with the inflatable habitat modules re-use some of it as a test base. But don't finish it off with a planned burn-up at reentry!
Re-task it as a test habitat for a Mars visit. Outfit and supply it as if it were going to be used as a transport to Mars and "isolate" them from resupply, gradually making the time lag due to transmissions a "real" factor. Test the hardware and crew THERE instead of on the moon. I bet the $$$ would be much less and there would always be the "failsafe" of the crew being able to return to Earth in case of a catastrophic failure, which in itself would be an opportunity for a learning experience in LEO instead of half way to Mars. Look at what they may be learning from the current failure of one of the cooling loops on the station.
It's too bad that the Hubble could not be "anchored" to the station. Has it ever been discussed about whether the orbit inclinations are so different that a maneuver could not be made to join them up? (at a late date?)