The White House’s decision to extend the International Space Station’s activities through the end of the decade acts as a “trigger” for other partners to develop their plans to stay on board. The Biden team agreed to keep the ISS operational until 2030, NASA reported on December 31. The station’s operations were approved by federal legislation until at least 2024, according to the most recent update in 2015.
While the news was not unexpected, it still needs other ISS members to agree to keep the station operational through 2024. The European Space Agency’s director-general, Josef Aschbacher, tweeted on December 31 that he was pleased with the decision and that he would make a formal recommendation to ESA’s member countries for the agency to “continue till 2030, as well.”
“We’re overjoyed to see the news from the United States. During a virtual panel discussion at the AIAA SciTech Forum on January 6, Christian Lange, who works as the director in charge of the space exploration planning, coordination, and advanced ideas at the Canadian Space Agency, said, “That’s assisting the decision process.”
He implied that Canada was holding off on approving an ISS extension until the United States explicitly supported it. “No one anticipated Canada to reach a decision ahead of the United States, or even Roscosmos or ESA.” Lange stated that the agency “will be collaborating with our government to provide solutions and come to a timely decision,” but did not specify when that decision would be made.
A representative from Japan’s space agency, JAXA, expressed a similar opinion. On the same panel, Naoki Sato, who works as the exploration lead at JAXA, remarked, “We were seeking the push by NASA to prolong the ISS beyond 2024.” “We’ve only started talking about extending the ISS because of that trigger.” He stated that JAXA hoped to make a formal decision on Japan’s involvement in the International Space Station after 2024 “within this year.”
However, the most pressing question is whether Russia would remain a member of the ISS after the year 2024. Despite the fact that Russia added 2 modules to its part of the ISS last year, Dmitry Rogozin, the chairman of Roscosmos, has stated that Russia was not keen on staying on the ISS until the end of the decade due to rising maintenance costs and Russia’s still-nascent intentions to create its own space station. According to The New York Times, Rogozin would accept an extension until 2030 only if the US lifted sanctions against two Russian enterprises. Roscosmos has made no public statements in response to NASA’s announcement that the ISS will be extended until 2030.