The White House gave NASA a “go” on New Year’s Eve to continue operations aboard the International Space Station until 2030, and is granting the orbital outpost a six-year lifespan extension.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has been instructed by the Biden Harris Administration to work with the agency’s partners, including the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Russian federal space company Roscosmos, to work together to ensure the international use of the space station for the remainder of this decade.
“I am delighted that the Biden-Harris government has committed to maintaining the station’s operations through 2030,” said Nelson in a statement posted on NASA’s website on Friday, December 31st. “The International Space Station ISS is a beacon of peaceful international scientific cooperation and has brought back enormous scientific, educational and technological developments for the benefit of mankind for more than 20 years.”
Related: Construction of the International Space Station (photos)
Previously funded for use through 2024, NASA has been looking for ways to hand over its day-to-day operations of the space station to commercial companies to release funds for its Artemis manned lunar exploration program.
“The United States’ continued participation in the ISS will increase innovation, competitiveness, and advance the research and technology required to send the first woman and person of color to the moon under NASA’s Artemis program Pave the way for posting the first. ” People to Mars, “said Nelson.
The expansion will also allow more time to ensure a seamless transition of research and commercial activities in low Earth orbit from the International Space Station to new private outposts. NASA recently reached agreements with companies to develop commercial space stations either as free-flying platforms or, as in one case, as a temporary extension of the International Space Station before it separates on its own.
Established in 1998, the International Space Station ISS has been home to an uninterrupted line of expedition crews for more than 21 years. As a microgravity laboratory, the station has carried out more than 3,000 research examinations from over 4,200 researchers around the world. Nearly 110 countries and territories have participated in activities aboard the space station, including more than 1.5 million students per year in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
ESA has previously expressed its support for expanding operations until 2030, and JAXA has certified that its Kibo laboratory and associated components are capable of supporting activities until then. Roscosmos has proposed to leave the partnership in 2025 to deploy its own space station, but at the same time recently added a new multipurpose laboratory module (“Nauka”) and a new docking port (“Prichal”) to its segment of the International Space Station.
Then there is the growing tensions between the US and Russia on earthly affairs, despite the fact that the space station partnership has weathered similar past challenges.
Before the White House’s instruction, Congress considered a law to continue using the space station until 2030. Bills introduced in both the House and Senate received bipartisan support but were not voted on.
“As more nations become active in space, it is more important than ever that the United States continue to lead the world in growing international alliances and modeling rules and norms for the peaceful and responsible use of space,” said Nelson.
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