NASA CEO Bill Nelson has announced that the US government wants to use the International Space Station until 2030. However, other international partners have yet to follow suit.

“We are proud that the US government is ready to move forward through 2030,” Nelson said in a press release. For more than twenty years there has been peaceful international scientific cooperation on the International Space Station. Scientific, educational and technological advances help humanity move forward.”

The space station was gradually expanded in 1998 and has a total length of 73 meters in 2022. In total there is 931.5 cubic meters of space on board, which is the equivalent of two separate houses. During 21 years, more than 3,000 scientific studies have been conducted on the space station. 4,200 scientists from nearly 110 countries took part in this.

What are the Russians doing?
European and Japanese space organizations have previously indicated that it will last until 2030. The big wait is now on Russia. The Russian space agency Roscosmos wants to work together until 2025, after which it may launch its own space station. On the other hand, Russia recently installed two new units (Nauka and Prichal). The Russians may want to continue beyond 2025. There are currently some international tensions between Russia and the United States, but this has happened a lot in the past and it has not had serious consequences for the ISS.

What after the International Space Station?
The big advantage of this extension from 2024 to 2030 is that in the next decade it is possible to work on the transition to one or more commercial space stations. For example, Blue Origin – Jeff Bezos’s space company – wants to build a commercial space station. The Orbital Reef space station is expected to be operational between 2025 and 2030. This overlaps well with the International Space Station. Bezos received $130 million from NASA in December to establish a space station or other commercial destination in space. Northrop Grumman and Nanorack also received more than $100 million.

This is what the future Blue Origin commercial space station might look like.

Beautiful pictures of the International Space Station
Late last year, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet took beautiful photos of the International Space Station. The images clearly show the size of the space station now. It is rare for the International Space Station to be photographed so close, as the space station hovers 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.