The Biden Administration has just committed to extending U.S. operations on the International Space Station until at least 2030.
Former President Barack Obama had previously extended the mission duration for the ISS into 2024. A draft budget written in 2018 was set to end funding in 2025, a year after the mission was set to end. Now, both the mission and thus the funding has been extended for at least the next 8 years.
“The United States’ continued participation on the ISS will enhance innovation and competitiveness, as well as advance the research and technology necessary to send the first woman and first person of color to the Moon under NASA’s Artemis program and pave the way for sending the first humans to Mars,” — Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator
This decision not only ensures U.S. involvement in the ISS for the rest of the decade, but it also ensures that there will be a continuous scientific presence in space during this time.
Continuing ISS operations will also allow a smooth transition towards the start of commercial space stations over the next 10 years, as companies like Axiom will begin to perform tests on a module attached to the ISS later this year.
The International Space Station has a long history in American space innovation. There has been a constant presence of astronauts residing there since 2000. Since then, many modules have been added and over 200 individuals have lived there.
The United States has invested billions of dollars in setting up and operating the ISS, including $3 billion of its annual $19 billion budget in maintenance. Each module has a planned lifetime of 10 years, but due to constant maintenance and renewals, each piece has and will continue to outlive its original estimated lifespan.