NASA plans to plunge the ISS into the Pacific Ocean in 2031. Photo: BBC
The International Space Station (ISS) will continue working until 2030, before plunging into the Pacific Ocean in early 2031, according to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
According to BBC, in a report this week, the US space agency said the ISS will crash into a part of the ocean known as Point Nemo.
This is the point furthest from land on planet Earth, also known as the spacecraft cemetery.
Many old satellites and other space debris have crashed there, including the Russian space station Mir in 2001.
Nasa said that in the future space activities close to earth will be led by the commercial sector.
The ISS – a joint project involving five space agencies – has been in orbit since 1998 and has been continuously crewed since 2000. More than 3,000 research investigations have taken place in its microgravity laboratory.
However it is only approved to operate until 2024 and any extension must be agreed by all partners.
Nasa says the plan to retire the ISS marks a transition to the commercial sector for activities in low-Earth orbit – the area of space close to Earth.
“The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with Nasa’s assistance,” said Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters.
In 2020, Nasa awarded a contract to Texas-based company Axiom Space to build at least one habitable module to be attached to the ISS. It has also provided funding to fund for three companies to develop designs for space stations and other commercial destinations in space.
It is hoped that these new projects will be in orbit before the ISS is retired.
Nasa says it hopes to create a “robust, American-led commercial economy in low-Earth orbit”.
Writing by Muzha Kucha