NASA Unveils Plan to Crash ISS into the Pacific Ocean on Retirement

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said it plans to retire the International Space Station (ISS) after its third decade in orbit in 2031 by crashing it into the Pacific Ocean. 

In the transition report, NASA said it plans to “de-orbit” the ISS over an uninhabited part of the South Pacific Ocean called Point Nemo, a crash site for hundreds of pieces of space debris over the years.

The ISS would begin to head back towards Earth in October 2026 and crash at Point Nemo in January 2031. 

The report also said that to pull the ISS out of orbit, it would need the horsepower of three Russian Progress spacecraft. 

In a press release, NASA added that the private sector would be taking the lead on space travel in the future and that NASA would help ensure a smooth transition. 

“The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with NASA’s assistance,” NASA’s Director of Commercial Space Phil McAlister said. 

NASA also said it would encourage and incentivize commercial companies that overtake space duties in 2031 to reach out to students. 

“The future of NASA’s missions, to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, rely on the younger generation. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s Moon and Mars explorers. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, and researchers,” NASA wrote.

The ISS, orbiting 227 nautical miles above Earth, has been a temporary home to more than 200 astronauts from 19 countries in their scientific ventures for more than two decades.

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