US Extends Space Station Operations Through 2030

The International Space Station's operations have been extended through 2030, NASA announced on Friday. "Though it was never in doubt that the U.S. would continue its near-term commitment to the ISS," reports Engadget, "NASA's announcement comes amid heightened tensions with Russia, one of several nations sharing access to the Space Station. 2021 also saw Russia deepen its cooperation in space with China, another US adversary, as The New York Times noted in June." NASA's announcement emphasized it would continue work with the space agencies of Europe, Japan, Canada, and Russia "to enable continuation of the groundbreaking research being conducted in this unique orbiting laboratory through the rest of this decade." From NASA.gov: "The International Space Station is a beacon of peaceful international scientific collaboration and for more than 20 years has returned enormous scientific, educational, and technological developments to benefit humanity...." said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "As more and more nations are active in space, it's more important than ever that the United States continues to lead the world in growing international alliances and modeling rules and norms for the peaceful and responsible use of space...." Nearly 110 countries and areas have participated in activities aboard the station, including more than 1,500,000 students per year in STEM activities. Instruments aboard the ISS, used in concert with free-flying instruments in other orbits, help us measure the stresses of drought and the health of forests to enable improved understanding of the interaction of carbon and climate at different time scales. Operating these and other climate-related instruments through the end of the decade will greatly increase our understanding of the climate cycle. Extending operations through 2030 will continue another productive decade of research advancement and enable a seamless transition of capabilities in low-Earth orbit to one or more commercially owned and operated destinations in the late 2020s. The decision to extend operations and NASA's recent awards to develop commercial space stations together ensure uninterrupted, continuous human presence and capabilities; both are critical facets of NASA's International Space Station transition plan. NASA's announcement also points out that the Space station has hosted "more than 3,000 research investigations from over 4,200 researchers across the world."

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