NASA has announced plans to destroy the International Space Station (ISS) in 2031. Under the plans, the approximately 445-tonne structure would be dropped into a desolate area south of the Pacific Ocean, known as the “spacecraft cemetery.”
This region, called Nemo Point, is said to be one of the most remote spots on the planet. While there are no human settlements near the area, satellites and rockets entering the atmosphere are often dropped there.
The IS, which entered service in 1998, was originally designed to last only 15 years. NASAsays it will be safe to use the station by 2030. When it is dropped into the Pacific Ocean, this structure will have served for more than 30 years.
The station currently has astronauts from the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency. It is thought that once the station is decommissioned, countries will set up their own stations.
NASA is expected to collaborate with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin or Elon Musk’s SpaceX for its own station.
HOW WILL THE STATION GET OUT OF ORBIT?
According to the space agency’s plans, the station’s orbiting altitude will be slowly reduced first. The station is currently at an altitude of 408 kilometers.
As the station descends, the atmosphere surrounding it will intensify and gradually retreat.
A series of crewless spacecraft will be launched to push it towards Earth before it leaves the station’s orbit. Three of Russia’s cargo vehicles, Progress, and one of US space firm Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft will take part in the mission.
The most crucial aspect of the plan is to ensure that the debris created by the station during this time falls into a desolate area to prevent damage to living things or property on earth.
“The IS IS IS is a unique laboratory that undertakes tremendous scientific, educational and technological advances to benefit people on the planet and demonstrates our ability to travel into deep space,” NASA officials said in a statement to announce the new plan.