What awaits the ISS after 2024?

The international space station has become a real global project, it proved that despite the political contradictions, economic difficulties and social changes, different countries can work effectively and efficiently, share experience, overcome difficulties and find a compromise, but to predict the future of the ISS after 2024 is not yet taken Even heads and presented the world space agencies, gathered at the world conference on space exploration – GLEX-2017.

For representatives of the space agencies of most countries, this issue is “very complex and delicate”, because the alternative to the ISS does not exist yet, and all studies in low-Earth orbit can not be interrupted overnight. And even though China claims about the availability of its future space station for the international community, the construction of which is planned to be completed by 2022, the ISS members hope for another, albeit brief, extension of its operation.
The ISS piloted space station, which began construction on November 20, 1998, is used as a multipurpose space research complex and is regularly visited by cosmonauts and astronauts. In its creation, 14 countries participate: USA, Russia, Japan, Canada, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

The ISS flight control is carried out from two centers: the Russian one in the Moscow region of the city of Korolev and the American one in the city of Houston, Texas. Over the years, more than 200 people from 15 countries visited the ISS. In 2015, Roskosmos and NASA agreed to extend the life of the ISS until 2024.


Earth removed from the International Space Station
© NASA / Scott Kelly

Salvation in Transformation

Cosmos contributes to the strengthening of international cooperation, which should not be underestimated, the successful joint construction project of the ISS reminds us of this, the head of the Italian space agency Roberto Battiston believes.

He reported on one of the opportunities for further use of the station, which provides for the transformation of the ISS or some of its separate compartment into the center of the simulation of life on Mars. On the one hand, this will prolong the ISS’s stay in orbit, and on the other hand it will create almost ideal conditions for preparing cosmonauts for future Martian missions.

Battison believes that “the agreement on the operation of the ISS has been extended until 2024, but no one knows exactly what will happen next, there are commercialization ideas, but many say that because of the high cost it is not realized.”

According to him, today the technical condition of the station is quite good, and this gives an opportunity for another extension of its flight, but the question of the expediency of further financial costs is already raised.

“The service life can be extended, it is in good condition, but the question is that with the extension of the plant’s service life, billions of dollars are frozen for its operation every year.” And then a dilemma arises as to how long it is possible to leave this money frozen instead of Use them to create a new station, all this is being thoroughly discussed at the moment, “the head of ASI told RIA Novosti.

According to him, NASA has already begun to analyze how much the station will be able to survive at a certain level of service, and “they want to extend the service life to 2028”.

Reduce costs and continue the flight

Japan also does not yet see a clear future for the ISS, but stands among those who advocate the extension of this international project in connection with the need to continue research in low-Earth orbit, but at the same time the cost of its operation, according to the Japanese side, must necessarily be reduced .

“This is a very complex issue, and we are still discussing what should happen after 2024 … There are many possible options, we can remove the ISS from orbit after 2024, but there is a possibility of continuing its use, in this case we need to cut costs For the operation of the station, “said JAXA spokesman Naoki Sato in an interview with RIA Novosti.

According to him, the international community “should continue to operate in low Earth orbit, for this it is not necessary to use the ISS, it may be another space station or a short version of the ISS or something like that.”

The station will pass into private hands

Sergei Krikalev, the executive director of the Roskosmos manned space programs, voiced another possible future for the ISS, noting that the ISS mission will continue, but with the participation of private companies, not just government agencies.

“I think that the ISS flight will continue for the time being, it’s still such an expensive and well-made structure.” Perhaps, the role of the state will decrease, there will be more and more private companies there to enter, I think that the station will fly for some time, The only thing, the role of the state will decrease, “RIA Novosti’s Krikalev said.

Krikalev stressed the importance of the ISS as an example of a major successful project that could become truly international.

Finding new opportunities

The head of the European Space Agency, Johann-Dietrich Werner, in turn, supported the creation of a new project for low-Earth orbit research.

“I think that the ISS may exist until 2029. But we are really coming to an end and after that we will need something new.I think that for a low orbit we need something where we could have Frequent access from where we could quickly return, faster, easier, “- said RIA Novosti Werner.

NASA’s Senior Advisor for Research and Space Operations, Kathleen Lawrini, in turn, noted that the ISS can function successfully for at least 10 years on technical criteria.

“At the moment we are confident that the equipment will be able to last until 2028, it is a formal confidence, and the station partners will make a decision based on certain criteria,” she said in an interview with RIA Novosti.

According to her, the development of low Earth orbit is a developing sphere of the economy, and before the closure of the ISS project, it is necessary to ensure the existence of commercial platforms in orbit for further research.

“We will keep the ISS in orbit until we find truly effective ways to make a smooth transition for all users of low orbit,” concluded Lawrini.

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