"WASHINGTON -- After more than 12 years and at least $100 billion in construction costs, NASA leaders say the International Space Station finally is ready to bloom into the robust orbiting laboratory that the agency envisioned more than two decades ago."
"'The ISS has now entered its intensive research phase,' said Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA operations and human exploration, in recent testimony to Congress in defense of the roughly $1.5 billion the agency spends annually on the outpost.
But doubts linger.
More than a quarter of the area that NASA has designated for experiments sits empty. Much of the research done aboard the station deals with living and working in space — with marginal application back on Earth. And the nonprofit group that NASA chose to lure more research to the outpost has been plagued by internal strife and recently lost its director."