The International Space Station has played an important role in invaluable research and discoveries, a feat that prompted some U.S. senators to propose a new initiative.
According to the current schedule, the ISS should be decommissioned by 2024, but a group of senators forms the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation plans to extend the program until 2030, a change that will be included in the 2019 authorization act for NASA.
One of the senators has stated that extending the lifetime of the ISS to 2030, and the new act will allow the current space economy to flourish while also consolidating the U.S. presence in space and offer valuable opportunities for both NASA and other space agencies across the world.
A pivotal motive for the extension is the enhanced and expanding ability of the station to manufacture goods in space. The joint statement, signed by several senators, mentions that NASA will establish a commercialization program that should seek to encourage commercial use and the development of space with the contribution of private entities from the United States. A national microgravity laboratory will remain in space even after the space station will be decommissioned.
The opportunity of an extension is quite interesting, but it is important to keep in mind the fact that the ISS is an international project, and other partners will have to agree. The European Space Agency, the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency are the partners that provide a high amount of funding.
Each agency has to follow its budget and limits, and NASA is also seeking help to return to the moon by 2024. The senators are determined to accelerate this goal as the Exploration Upper Stage of the Space Launch System rocket should be completed and operational before the 2024 moon landing.
Other goals are also present within the bill, and it seems that NASA will be hard at work in the following years.