The ISS could be gone by 2024 — what does it mean the future of space travel?

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Retiring the International Space Station in the coming years presents a big void “ what will be the future of space stations once the International Space Station meets its fiery death in the coming years? And SHOULD the ISS be decommissioned, or might the mission lifetime be extended?

Construction of the International Space Station (ISS), started in 1998, was completed in 2011. Since that time, the ISS has housed travelers in space from 19 countries. Possessing the only laboratory for long-duration microgravity research, discoveries aboard the orbiting outpost have led to a bevy of new discoveries.

Now, its mission could be over as early as 2024, as that is the time agreements between NASA and international partners comes to an end. However, on the 25 August, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated his support for extending the mission of the space station until the year 2030.

“We expect to expand the space station as a government project all the way to 2030. And we hope it will be followed by commercial stations,” Nelson stated.

Although Nelson has long supported extending the lifetime of the ISS to 2030, the U.S. Congress has, so far, failed to continue funding past 2024. Such an agreement would need the approval of Canada, Russia, Europe, and Japan.

Josef Aschbacher, director general of the European Space Agency, strongly supports an extension, as does Walther Pelzer, head of the German space agency DLR.

The Yangs and Kohms

The future of space stations could be private, as the ability to reach space becomes more common among non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

One company developing private space stations, Axiom Space, seeks to begin with expanding out the ISS while constructing their own orbiting outpost. Their egg-shaped modules are designed to provide a 360-degree view of space, and the Earth turning far below.

“Once fully assembled, Axiom Station will nearly double the useable volume of the International Space Station,” the team reports.

Credit: Axiom Station