The United States will extend its operations on the International Space Station until 2030, NASA confirmed on a blog on Friday. “The International Space Station is a beacon of peaceful international scientific cooperation and for more than 20 years has restored tremendous scientific, educational and technological development for the benefit of humanity,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
While there has never been any doubt that the U.S. will continue its short-term commitment to the ISS, NASA’s announcement comes amid heightened tensions with Russia, one of several nations sharing access to the space station. In 2021, Russia also deepened cooperation in space with China, another American adversary, as well New York Times observed in June.
In the fall of 2021, there were several emergencies on the ISS, which the United States blamed on Russia. In October, a sudden test fire from an anchored Russian spacecraft caused the ISS to tilt from its normal position, prompting shipboard personnel to evacuate briefly. (Fun footnote: The spacecraft that caused the incident was in space so the Russian crew could make the first feature film on the space station.) Then, in November, satellite debris forced ISS astronauts to seek refuge on the day as a Russian. rocket attack. The United States has condemned Russia for the attack. Russia has not admitted any injustice.
Later that month, in an unrelated episode, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, left the door open for possible criminal charges related to a 2018 incident involving a hole in one of its spacecraft, which Russian media insinuated could be the result American sabotage. “These attacks are fake and have no credibility,” Nelson said Ars Technica in November.
In its announcement on Friday, NASA, among its continuous projects of sending people to Mars, as well as the Artemis project, pointed out the effort to send the first woman and the first colored person to the moon. Indeed, NASA underwent a reorganization in September that seemed to specifically reflect its priorities around the Moon and Mars.
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