Won't work. The ISS doesn't have enough radiation shielding to allow astronauts to survive for long beyond the Van Allan belts. Also, it would take a VERY long time to go anywhere on the "10 Watts in, 10 micro-Newtons of thrust out" that an EM drive provides. The ISS has about 100 kW of solar power capacity - and if 100% of that went into an array of 10,000 EM drives - you'd get 10 milli-Newtons of thrust out. The ISS has a mass of around 400,000kg and needs about 10m/s of deltaV added to it every couple of months just to stay in orbit.
There is no way for EM drives to do anything of use whatever.
Yeah - but the ISS would end up being about 1% of all of the engineering you describe...and because it doesn't have enough shielding to operate safely beyond the Van Allan belts - and it's solar panels won't deliver enough power out by Mars - you's end up with a TON or rework to do.
The trouble it brings would by far exceed it's worth.
If the ISS is going to be worth anything - it's right in the orbit it's in now. Because it needs to be re-boosted to higher orbits every 3 to 6 months - it's not a free resource.
So unless you find a benefit that it's giving to humanity that exceeds the resupply/boost cost where it is right now - then the only cost-effective thing to do is to crash it into the Pacific ocean.
You're right - but if the US doesn't pass a law to continue to fund it past 2024 - then there is no chance of the other countries providing enough cash to keep it flying. If the USA said "We're going to donate our part to private space agencies (who probably won't want to provide food/water/supplies to YOUR astronauts)"...then what could they do about it?
I agree - it's really not doing a whole lot for us.
Ditching it into the pacific would be a bad idea - but donating it to privately owned space businesses like SpaceX and Bigelow who are already working with the ISS would make a lot more sense. Consider the boost to US business if those companies had free access to the ISS!
NASA did their job here - they got private industry interested in that stuff - now they can step back from doing what they already know how to do - and get on with the difficult researchy stuff.
The trouble is that once you're out of low Earth Orbit, you don't get any of the earth's magnetic field protection from solar radiation. Long term occupancy of a structure outside of that orbit requires decent quantities of shielding - which the ISS doesn't have.
If you think the ISS is costly to maintain now - imagine what it would be if each resupply mission needs a rocket the size of a Saturn V to get food, water and oxygen up to a lunar orbit.
Sure, EVENTUALLY, you can get oxygen and water from the moon - but that won't happen until LONG after 2024.
Sadly - although this seems like a reasonable idea - I think it's a non-starter.
A computer without COBOL and Fortran is like a piece of chocolate cake without ketchup and mustard.