White House directs NASA to extend International Space Station operations through 2030.

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The International Space Station as pictured from a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule during a November 2021 fly around. The White House has directed NASA to extend space station operations through 2030. (Image credit: NASA)

According to a New Year’s Eve “go” from the White House, NASA will be able to continue operating out of the International Space Station into 2030.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was directed by the Biden-Harris administration to work with the agency’s partners, including the European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Russia’s federal space corporation Roscosmos, to enable the International Space Station’s use throughout the rest of this decade.

After the Biden-Harris administration pledged to keep the space station operational until 2030, Nelson sent a statement to NASA on Friday saying, “I’m thrilled” (Dec. 31). “The International Space Station is a symbol of peaceful international scientific cooperation and for more than 20 years has returned immense scientific, educational and technical advancements to benefit mankind.”

Earlier slated for usage until 2024, NASA has been investigating methods to transfer over the day-to-day management of the space station to private firms to free up resources for its Artemis program of crewed lunar exploration.

“The United States’ continued participation on the International Space Station will enhance innovation and competitiveness, as well as advance the research and technology necessary to send the first woman and first person of color to the moon under NASA’s Artemis program and pave the way for sending the first humans to Mars,” said Nelson.

The extension will also allow extra time to enable a smooth transition of low Earth orbit research and commercial operations from the International Space Station to new private outposts. The International Space Station (ISS) will be temporarily extended by one of these commercial space stations before it departs on its own since NASA has lately entered into agreements with firms to create retail space stations.

In this image from a SpaceX Crew Dragon flyaround in November 2021, the International Space Station may be seen in the distance.

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International Space Station on-orbit of Earth planet. ISS. Dark background. Elements of this image furnished by NASA (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since its inception in 1998, the International Space Station has served as a home base for several expeditions. As a microgravity laboratory, the station has hosted more than 3,000 scientific studies from over 4,200 researchers throughout the globe. Nearly 110 nations and territories have engaged in activities on board the space station, including more than 1.5 million kids each year in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) outreach programs.

ESA has already stated support for continuing operations beyond 2030, and JAXA has confirmed that its Kibo laboratory and associated components can sustain activities until then. However, Roscosmos has just connected a new multifunctional laboratory module (“Nauka“) and a new docking port (“Prichal’) to its sector of the International Space Station, indicating that it intends to leave the collaboration in 2025 in favor of establishing its own space station.

There are also rising tensions between the United States and Russia over more mundane issues, even though the collaboration for the International Space Station has endured similar difficulties in the past.

In the past, Congress discussed legislation that would have allowed the International Space Station to remain in operation until 2030. Bills presented in the House of Representatives and Senate had bipartisan support but did not reach a vote.

“As more and more countries are involved in space, it’s more critical than ever that the United States continues to lead the world in developing multilateral alliances and setting laws and standards for the peaceful and responsible use of space,” Nelson said.

Also Read: The biggest launch failures of 2021.

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