The International Space Station Is Retiring,
What Does this Mean for Space Exploration?
by Theodore Morrison, age 14
The International Space Station is considered a constant symbol of humanity's achievements in the fields of space science and diplomacy. Many will be shocked to learn that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has plans to retire and crash the station straight into the ocean in 2031.
According to The International Space Station Report, NASA is aiming to crash the ISS into the Pacific Ocean at a location called Point Nemo, the farthest point at sea from any landmass. To put the distance in perspective, it is 2,000 miles North of Antarctica and 3,000 miles East of New Zealand. The ISS will, probably, rest forever at a point known as the spacecraft graveyard.
This retirement isn’t without merit, though, as NASA confirms that they intend to use the ISS as an “analog for a Mars transit mission,” according to a NASA report. The ISS was a point for which science could advance, which has included 3D printing an item on the orbiting station, producing the fifth state of matter, growing organic food in space, and sequencing DNA. Though the ISS will no longer be in orbit, the international scientific community will forever reap the information the station provided.
The retirement of the ISS isn’t the end of space stations, as Russia is currently planning on withdrawing from the ISS in 2025 and launching its own space station by 2030. In addition, China, having been excluded from the ISS, launched the first piece of their space station last year and is expected to finish assembly at the end of 2022. The United States is taking a unique approach to establishing its own space station, with help from NASA, the private sector is planning to establish “low-Earth orbit destinations.” All in all, there will be up to, but not limited to, three space stations in orbit within the next couple of decades.
The ISS retirement won’t mark the end of scientific discovery in space as nations across the globe vie for scientific breakthroughs. A new era of space discovery is on the horizon and is full of mysteries to be solved.
[Sources: The New York Times; CNN.com]