NASA announced plans this week to crash the International Space Station into the ocean in early 2031. If you happened to be in the Space Force and had any lofty goals to serve in this historic slice of space, then you’re plumb out of luck.
The International Space Station Crash
If you’re wondering where the International Space Station is right now, it’s still safe in low Earth orbit, 250 miles or so above the planet. It can be seen with the naked eye on clear nights, so get your station viewing in while you still can.
Because, less than ten years from now, NASA will cause the ISS to plummet into the Pacific Ocean in a region known as Point Nemo, aka, the spacecraft cemetery.
Where Is the Space Station Going To Crash?
Multiple installations and equipment out of low Earth orbit have been put to rest at Point Nemo. Russian space station Mir crashed there in 2001, for example.
Point Nemo is a spot in the Pacific Ocean that’s farthest from dry land. It’s 1,678 miles from anywhere, making it an ideal candidate for spacecraft to suffer a Viking burial.
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The Future of Space Exploration
The Biden administration extended NASA’s existing plans to decommission the ISS. In the coming years, more private partnerships will take precedence in the further development of space resources.
Phil McAlister, the director of commercial space at NASA, stated in conjunction with the announcement that, “The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with NASA’s assistance. We look forward to sharing our lessons learned and operations experience with the private sector to help them develop safe, reliable and cost-effective destinations in space.”
Perhaps every member of the Space Force will soon be driving Teslas in space.
News About the Space Station Comes at Historic Time
The very first part of the ISS was launched in 1998. In October of 2000, the first international team of space roommates moved in. The ISS has been occupied for 21 and a half years straight, which is more than double the previous record set by Russian space station Mir.
To put it another way, and to paraphrase famed astronaut Scott Kelly, the last time all humans lived together on the same planet was over two decades ago.
20 years ago today was the last time all humans were on earth at the same time! A remarkable achievement! Congrats @NASA and happy anniversary #ISS20. pic.twitter.com/cmXZzTWgEn
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) October 31, 2020
A crew of seven generally lives on the ISS at all times. They travel at the speed of 4.76 miles per second and see 16 sunrises and sunsets a day.
As of now, private partnerships are already ramping up. Four different spacecraft deliver cargo supplies to the ISS on a monthly basis, including the SpaceX Dragon capsule.
The ISS represents an international partnership between 15 countries and five space agencies. It’s required a massive effort to keep it afloat over the years. It’s difficult to overstate how dangerous it is to live and work in the harsh vacuum of space. And there have been some seriously close calls. Supply shortages, mysterious leaks, and creeping carbon dioxide levels, to name a few.
Yet the International Space Station has overcome, shining as a beacon of global cooperation for all to see. Its over 50 computers and 4.5 million lines of code have kept it a (mostly) safe and secure environment for an international team of over 400 astronauts.
In less than a decade that symbol will be gone, sinking into the depths of another kind of international agreement, one that disposes of such symbols, only to allow for a further progression into a more fully formed global community of exploration and prosperity in space.
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