ISS will plunge into Pacific in 2031
WASHINGTON: The International Space Station (ISS) will continue its operations until 2030 and will plunge into the most remote point in the Pacific Ocean in 2031, NASA confirmed in a new transition plan. According to the space agency's budget estimates, the ISS, launched in 1998, will be "de-orbited" in January 2031.
- Once out of orbit the space station will make a dramatic descent before splash-landing in Point Nemo, which is about 2,700 km from any land and has become known as the space cemetery- a final resting place for decommissioned space stations, old satellites and other human space debris.
- Also known as the "Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility" or the "South Pacific Ocean Uninhabited Area", the region around the space cemetery is known for its utter lack of human activity.
- Further, NASA has signed agreements with three private companies to launch commercial space stations for use by both private companies and government astronauts.
- These new commercial space stations will be launched by Blue Origin, Nanoracks LLC and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation.
- The ISS, about the size of an American football field, orbits the Earth about once every 90 minutes, and has been continuously occupied by astronauts since November 2000.
- Last September, a Russian official warned that small cracks had been discovered on the space station that could worsen over time and raised concerns about ageing equipment and the risk of "irreparable failures".
- The space station was originally intended to operate for just 15 years, but NASA said in a report that "there is high confidence that ISS life can be further extended through 2030".