President Biden Approves Extension of International Space Station Operations Through 2030

President Biden Approves ISS Operations Extension Through 2030
The International Space Station (ISS) operations have been extended to 2030 by President Biden. Here the ISS is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021 and concluding the Crew-2 mission. Credit: NASA/ESA/Thomas Pesquet

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – U.S. President Joe Biden has approved a long-term extension of operations of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030, as announced by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, shortly before ringing in the new year and coming on the heels of a phenomenally successful year for the space agency that culminated with the successful Christmas morning launch of NASA’s mammoth James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on Dec. 25.

The ISS extension counts as a major win for NASA and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in the first year of the Biden Administration.

Nelson announced the Biden-Harris Administration’s “commitment to extend ISS operations through 2030”  and added that NASA will work with our international partners in Europe (ESA, European Space Agency)Japan (JAXA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), Canada (CSA, Canadian Space Agency), and Russia (State Space Corporation Roscosmos) to enable continuation of the groundbreaking research being conducted in this unique orbiting laboratory through the rest of this decade.”

The hoped for extension adds another eight years to the ISS lifetime from today and is a welcome relief to many in the science and aerospace community who feared a dreadful gap in U.S. research capabilities in low Earth orbit if the station was not extended beyond the current approved lifetime of 2024

Furthermore China is offering very robust competition regarding space stations and is well along into building their own space station with one large module already on orbit occupied with permanent rotating crews, and two more modules planned for launch this year along with cargo resupply ships functioning similarly to the ISS.

 

“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. I’m pleased that the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to continuing station operations through 2030,” Nelson said, in a statement issued as a blog post on the NASA home page.

“The United States’ continued participation on the ISS will enhance innovation and competitiveness, as well as advance the research and technology necessary to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program and pave the way for sending the first humans to Mars. 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.”

NASA hopes a commercial space station will eventually replace the ISS – but that will take time and money which is in short supply

The football field sized ISS is currently home to seven multinational crew members from the U.S, Russia and Germany serving as part of Expedition 66.

Expedition 66 crew members from left: Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos; Thomas Marshburn of NASA; Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos; Raja Chari, Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron, all from NASA; and Matthias Maurer from ESA (European Space Agency). Credit: NASA

Europe, Canada and Japan have all expressed a strong interest in maintaining the ISS for years to come.

Russia may need some convincing and has shown an interest in working more closely with China.

The International Space Station (ISS) is viewed from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon during its automated approach before docking on Dec. 22, 2021. Credit: NASA TV

However Russia also added two new modules to the ISS in 2021 and Nelson told me at KSC that he is very hopeful and optimistic that Russia will want to fully utilize their new hardware

The International Space Station (ISS) is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021 and concluding the Crew-2 mission. Credit: NASA/ESA/Thomas Pesquet

 

The most recent NASA launch to the ISS involved the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Cargo Dragon lift off on Dec. 21 of SpaceX’s 24th NASA contracted Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-24) mission to the International Space Station since 2012 at 5:07 a.m. EST (1007 GMT), Dec. 21, from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon was loaded with over 3.2 tons of NASA science and supplies and bearing much anticipated Christmas presents for the seven person multinational crew mates

Light Saber Streak: SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon cargo spacecraft launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida the CRS-24 commercial resupply services mission on at 5:07 a.m. EST Dec. 21, 2021 – in this long duration exposure single image. Dragon deliver over 3 tons new science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the International Space Station. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Prior to CRS-24 the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 quartet of astronauts launched on November 10 from KSC.

Liftoff of multinational German and American astronauts flying on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission had been delayed by minor medical issues and poor offshore weather to Nov. 10, 2021 from Launch Complex 39A the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The quartet participated in a media event after arriving at KSC on Oct. 26, 2021. From left is ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Mission Specialist Matthias Maurer of Germany, NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, pilot, Spacecraft Commander Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, mission specialist. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Further details from NASA:

Over the past two decades, the United States has maintained a continuous human presence in orbit around the Earth to test technologies, conduct scientific research, and develop skills needed to explore farther than ever before. The unique microgravity laboratory has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from over 4,200 researchers across the world and is returning enormous scientific, educational, and technological developments to benefit people on Earth. 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.

Here’s a NASA summary of this past year 2021 of the ISS:

 

Watch Ken’s onsite reporting about ISS operations at the Kennedy Space Center.

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about ISS, SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragons, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, Lucy Asteroid mission, IXPE, DART, National Security missions,  SpaceX Starlink, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3, ISS, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon Endurance streaks to orbit on NASA ESA Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station after liftoff at 9:03 p.m. from Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Nov. 10, 2021 – in this long duration exposure single image taken with fisheye lens. Multinational crew aboard Crew Dragon are SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts Raja Chari, commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist; along with Matthias Maurer, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and mission specialist. Falcon 9 darted in and out of thick clouds before disappearing quickly behind them. Bracketed by VAB (l) & Countdown Clock + water reflecting US/Crew3 flags flagpole (r). Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

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Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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