NASA plans to retire the International Space Station by sinking it in the Pacific Ocean. NASA Headquarters’ director for commercial space, Phil McAlister, stated in a press release, that NASA will assist with a smooth transition and will lead the development of future space station projects.

He stated that “the private sector is technically, financially and financially capable of operating low-Earth orbit commercial destinations with NASA’s support.” We look forward to sharing our operations and lessons learned with the private sector in order to help them create safe, reliable and cost-effective space destinations.

NASA’s goal is to use commercial ventures to buy goods and services the federal space program requires, rather than doing everything themselves. NASA expects to have several crewmembers working aboard commercial space stations in the 2030s. They will be conducting medical and scientific research in microgravity.

NASA published recently a transition report that detailed plans for the last years of the space station’s operation. It is anticipated that funding will be available for operations through 2030.

NASA anticipates that the ISS will be operational safely through 2030, even though it won’t last forever.

NASA plans to “de-orbit the ISS” over an uninhabited area of the South Pacific Ocean when the program’s lifespan is up. The mission control team will perform a series of maneuvers to lower the orbit of the station and align it for its descent. It will finally reach Point Nemo in 2031. It will need to be pulled out of orbit by the Russian Progress spacecraft.

Since 1998, the station has hosted astronauts representing 19 different countries. During its nearly two decades of space travel, the ISS has travelled 227 nautical miles above Earth.

NASA announced that it would keep the station open through the Biden administration. NASA wrote that crews are “busier than ever”, with crews “advancing the technologies, procedures, and tools that will be required to send the first women and first person of colour to the Moon, and the first humans, to Mars.

NASA stated that it will encourage and incentivize companies to take over space duties by 2031, to reach out and develop the next generation space pioneers.

The future of NASA’s missions to Mars and the Moon depends on the youth. Tomorrow’s Moon and Mars explorers are today’s youth. NASA stated that today’s youth will be tomorrow’s engineers, scientists, and researchers.”