Russia agrees life extension for International Space Station
The United States, Japan, Canada, and the participating countries of the ESA (European Space Agency) had already intended to support operations through to 2030, but the commitment of Russia to extend its life, for the mid-term at least, was missing.
The worst case scenario was international cooperation finishing at the end of 2024, with Russian involvement being critical. Now, however, Nasa says it will “continue to work with its partner agencies to ensure an uninterrupted presence in low Earth orbit, as well as a safe and orderly transition from the space station to commercial platforms in the future”.
“The International Space Station is an incredible partnership with a common goal to advance science and exploration,” said Robyn Gatens, director of the International Space Station Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Extending our time aboard this amazing platform allows us to reap the benefits of more than two decades of experiments and technology demonstrations, as well as continue to materialize even greater discovery to come.”
You can read more about the International Space Station, and its benefits, here.
After 2028? Russia is reportedly involved with the Chinese space station alternative, Tiangong (“Sky Palace”). The BBC has previously reported that Russia and China will collaborate in the planning, design, development and operation of the new space research station.
The first component of the ISS was launched in 1998 and its first crew arrived in November 2000 courtesy of a Russian Soyuz TM-31 spacecraft. Since then, it has been visited by 266 individuals from 20 countries.
The U.S. space agency highlights that crew members have conducted more than 3,300 experiments in microgravity for research across many disciplines, including Earth and space science, biology, human physiology, physical sciences and technology. These are experiments that couldn’t be done on Earth.
“The space station is one of the most complex international collaborations ever attempted,” Nasa reminds us. “It was designed to be interdependent, relies on contributions from across the partnership to function, and no partner currently has the capability to operate the space station without the other.”
See also: Nasa turns to KSAT, SpaceLink for commercialising Near Space comms
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