After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more than 12 months ago, senior figures at the country’s space agency threatened to pull out from the International Space Station – even going so far as to unveil its own future competitor to the space base. But now, a year on, the country has pledged to instead retain its spot on the ISS until 2028.
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The news came from NASA this morning after the American space agency confirmed that support for the low-Earth orbit base would continue until 2030. After that date, NASA plans to de-orbit the station – which means crashing it into the Pacific Ocean.
But before everything comes tumbling down, NASA confirmed that the United States, Japan, Canada, and the participating countries of the European Space Agency will continue to operate the ISS. In the same announcement, it was also confirmed that Russia will continue to work on the station’s operations through 2028.
“The International Space Station is an incredible partnership with a common goal to advance science and exploration,” Robyn Gatens, director of the International Space Station Division at NASA, said in a news release.
“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.”
Over the next seven years, NASA and its collaborators will work to ensure an “uninterrupted presence in low Earth orbit.” The global space agencies also confirmed that they will work towards a “safe and orderly transition” away from the ISS and onto the commercial platforms that are being developed by privateer space agencies around the world.
While NASA continues to work on its Artemis missions to develop a human presence on the moon, there are three stand-out projects that could replace the ISS in orbit.
According to Wired, the top three candidates include bases proposed by Blue Origin, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman. Each of the proposals would include space dedicated to science and research, alongside commercial spaces.
According to NASA’s latest time, the ISS will remain in service until the end of the decade. By that time, it hopes that some of the future space bases will have launched their first elements into orbit.