NASA to Retire International Space Station in January 2031
The International Space Station (ISS) is nearing the end of its decade of operation, and NASA plans to allow commercial operations. NASA has outlined the plan for transition in a report. The report outlines the steps implemented by NASA to create “both the supply and demand-side” of the low-Earth orbit commercial economy. Many private exploration companies, such as SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk SpaceX compete for the multi-billion-dollar space market. SpaceX has put thousands of tiny satellites into low Earth orbit to supply broadband Internet. In addition, there are other satellites such as Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson who are looking at missions to promote space travel.
NASA plans to “deorbit” the ISS and smash it into the Pacific Ocean in January 2031. While it is waiting, it will be awaiting the outcomes of more than a decade of research and development for the craft. “The agency is taking steps to ensure a successful transition of operations to commercial services,” NASA announced in a document outlining the technical requirements and budgets needed for transition to commercial activities. The initial part of the ISS was first launched in 1998, and the station has been orbiting the Earth for more than two decades.
Robyn Gatens, ISS director at NASA The space station is in its third decade of the most productive. This decade will build upon our global partnerships that have been successful in helping deeper space exploration. It will also bring health and environmental benefits to the human race in addition to “lay the groundwork for a commercial future in low-Earth orbit.”
NASA has already begun laying the foundations to make the transition. In a press release issued in December 2021, NASA announced it had given agreements to three firms, Blue Origin, Nanoracks, and Northrop Grumman, to create private space stations on Earth orbit. Houston-based firm Axiom Space is also developing several modules for ISS that will eventually be separated from the orbiting lab to create “free-flying commercial space stations,” NASA has said in a separate press statement.
Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters The private sector can create and operate low-Earth orbit retail destinations with NASA’s help. The report provides a comprehensive strategy to ensure a seamless transition to commercial space following the ISS retiring in 2030.