July 27, 2011

ISS To Crash Into The Ocean In 2020

International space agencies announced on Wednesday that NASA and its partners plan to plunge the International Space Station (ISS) into the ocean at the end of its life cycle after 2020.

"After it completes its existence, we will be forced to sink the ISS. It cannot be left in orbit, it's too complex, too heavy an object, it can leave behind lots of rubbish," said deputy head of Roscosmos space agency Vitaly Davydov.

"Right now we've agreed with our partners that the station will be used until approximately 2020," he said in a press release.

Space junk is becoming an increasing issue for objects in orbit.  A piece of space debris missed the space station last month, but still forced the six-member crew to hunker down in their rescue craft.

The space station orbits 220 miles above Earth and was launch in 1998.  The ISS was initially planned to remain in space for 15 years until an agreement was reached to keep it operating through 2020.

The fate of the space station was just one of many things discussed during the Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) meeting on Tuesday.

The board also discussed how to use the space station as a test bed for technologies that will enable missions beyond low Earth orbit.

NASA said the board will begin identifying several specific technology collaboration initiatives based on possible future missions suggested by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group.

NASA has designated the U.S. segment of the station as a national laboratory to encourage its use by national agencies, private firms and universities.

The Canadian Space Agency and NASA will test robotic refueling systems delivered to the Station by the last Shuttle.

Roscosmos is investigating wheat and vegetable cultivation and human adaptation to long flights.

The MCB also discussed efforts to increase station use and reported on the status of standardization efforts for rendezvous and proximity operations, interfaces for replaceable items and payloads and command protocols for spacecraft.


Image Caption: This image of the International Space Station with the docked Europe's ATV Johannes Kepler and Space Shuttle Endeavour was taken by Expedition 27 crew member Paolo Nespoli from the Soyuz TMA-20 following its undocking on 24 May 2011. The pictures are the first taken of a shuttle docked to the ISS from the perspective of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Onboard the Soyuz were Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 27 commander Dmitry Kondratyev, ESA's Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman. Coleman and Nespoli were both flight engineers. The three landed in Kazakhstan later that day, completing 159 days in space. Credits: ESA/NASA


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