NASA is planning to replace the International Space Station (ISS) by 2030. It aims to do so with one or more commercial space stations in a decade.
The space agency’s auditing body, the Office of Audits, produced a report; it details NASA’s commitment to replace the orbiting lab with commercial space stations.
Astronauts have lived and worked on board the ISS orbiting above the earth’s surface for more than 20 years.
“The ISS costs about $3 billion a year, roughly a third of NASA‘s annual human space flight budget, and while current plans call for the Station’s retirement in 2024, an extension to 2030 is likely,” NASA said in the audit report.
NASA is committed to replacing the space station with one or more commercially owned and operated space destinations.
“In the fiscal year (FY) that ended September 30, 2021, Congress authorised $17 million to that end — a fraction of the $150 million the agency said it needed. NASA’s plans for long-term, deep-space human exploration missions depend on continuous access to a research laboratory in low-Earth orbit,” NASA added.
Artemis mission aims at returning humans to the Moon. It will ultimately land the astronauts on Mars.
NASA and Roscosmos are also probing the cause and long-term impacts of cracks and leaks, recently discovered in the Station’s Service Module Transfer Tunnel.
It connects the Service Module to one of eight docking ports on the station. Some of the causes that are being explored include structural fatigue, internal damage, external damage, and material defects.