Russia announced this week it plans to leave the International Space Station after 2024.
The announcement came during the tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Before Tuesday’s announcement, NASA had committed to keeping the aging but pristine station in orbit until 2030.
The length of a football field, the ISS is a joint venture involving the U.S., Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe. Construction started in 1998 and continued with more modules being added right up to 2011. The station, which has as much living space as a six-bedroom house, has been occupied without interruption since Nov. 2, 2000.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, plans to start building a Russian orbiting station.
Despite the war in Ukraine, NASA and Roscosmos agreed this month that Russia’s Soyuz capsules will continue to transport astronauts to the space station. As part of the agreement, Russian cosmonauts will start riding on SpaceX capsules to the station this fall.
— Dave Mason