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US Extends International Space Station's Lifespan Into 2024

| 8 Jan 2014 22:35

The Obama administration has extended US support of the International Space Station for another four years, opening the doors for additional research projects and investments.

For fans of NASA and space travel, the past few years has been fairly disappointing. Not only did the organization undergo extensive budget cuts and lose its historic shuttle program, but now the biggest contender for American space colonization might be none other than a reality show. One could understandably worry that the prospects of publicly-funded space travel are rapidly swirling down the drain, but there's support for NASA yet. For example, the Obama administration has promised to extend operations aboard the International Space Station until 2024, ensuring that its research will continue for an additional four years.

The extension itself isn't entirely unexpected. The ISS is already fully funded for another decade while its component parts should last until at least 2028. If support for the station was withdrawn, the alternative would be knocking the $100 billion station into an controlled de-orbit, causing it to crash-land in the South Pacific six years later.

Regardless, the confirmation is exciting for any NASA and government officials seeking investments into space-based research. "This means more jobs at the Kennedy Space Center as we rebuild our entire space program," said Flordia Democratic Senator Bill Nelson. "Now, with 10-year extended life on the station, we process those payloads at KSC, we have the commercial rockets take both humans and cargo to the station. This is a robust future for KSC and our space program."

What's less clear is whether international partners like Russia, Canada, Japan, and the European Space Agency will continue their involvement with the ISS. Bill Gerstenmaier, head of NASA's human spaceflight program, has stated that even if these other countries withdraw their support, NASA will go it alone.

Source: Washington Post

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