The International Space Station will crash on the Pacific Ocean’s Point Nemo
NASA announced that the International Space Station would continue to operate until 2030 before crashing into an uninhabited region of the Pacific Ocean known as Point Nemo.
After the ISS retires, it will be replaced by space stations and other commercial destinations in low-Earth orbit to continue the work.
By shifting to a system in which the commercial industry owns and runs the assets in low-Earth orbit, and NASA is one of many clients, the agency will save money on the costs of living and working in low-Earth orbit.
NASA estimates that shifting the mission to commercial platforms will save $1.3 billion. This money may be used towards other NASA projects, such as deep space exploration, allowing the agency to go deeper and faster into space.
How Is the Space Station Going to Be Destroyed?
The International Space Station will deorbit in 2031. It’s supposed to land 2,500 miles east of New Zealand’s coast. The aquatic region is known as the “spacecraft cemetery”. It is home to around 160 spacecraft and space stations from Japan, Russia, and European countries.
According to NASA’s transition plan report, the station’s modules will first disengage from the primary structure. They will then reduce the operational altitude until it reaches the level of the Earth’s atmosphere.
NASA will then deploy cargo vehicles to assist in pushing the decommissioned space station towards Earth in preparation for reentry. While most of it will burn up in the atmosphere owing to friction, some will make it to the furthest reaches of the ocean. Additional spacecraft may be sent if necessary to deorbit the ISS.
Transition of the International Space Station to a Commercial Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station in low Earth orbit launched in 1998. It is a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and 11 European countries that operates under the supervision of the European Space Agency (ESA). It has been used for scientific research, climate change observatory, and as a home for almost 200 researchers from over 20 nations.
The originally planned life span for ISS was around 15 years. However, President Joe Biden has extended the mission until 2030, citing NASA’s assurance that the station’s construction is safe. The International Space Station is growing old, and NASA has no plans to build a replacement. However, it still needs a location to research, particularly to enable human exploration of Mars. The US also does not want to hand over control of LEO to China, which is the only other country having a space station.
Blue Origin, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman have all signed deals with the government to develop space stations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The agreements are part of the agency’s efforts to establish a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit led by the United States. In addition, Axiom Space, located in Houston, was also chosen by NASA to design and construct commercial modules for the ISS. Axiom intends to connect a series of commercial modules that will ultimately detach and transform the space station into an LEO free-flying space station.