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Current Affairs

Retiring International Space Station (ISS)

Date: 25 February 2022 Tags: Space

Issue

The International Space Station (ISS) will cease to operate by 2031, according to NASA.

 

Background

ISS has been orbiting Earth since last two decades. It has served as a base for astronauts performing scientific study.

 

Details

Once the space station is decommissioned, it will fall out of orbit and plunge into the waters of the South Pacific Ocean.

 

Working of ISS

  • The ISS was conceptualized in 1984 when then US President Ronald Reagan proposed developing a permanent orbiting spacecraft in collaboration with other countries.

  • The first part of ISS, the control module was launched onboard a Russian spacecraft in 1998. It was attached to the Unity node by a team of astronauts later.

  • The ISS was able to carry a crew for the first time in 2000. Till now, it has carried over 200 astronauts and cosmonauts from about 19 different countries.

 

Achievements on ISS

  • For the first time, the fifth state of matter called Bose-Einstein Condensate was produced on ISS by NASA’s Cold Atom Lab in 2018.

  • DNA sequencing was carried out for the first time in space in 2016. Advanced water purification and crop production have been successfully carried out.

 

Start of decommissioning

The spacecraft will start re-entry in January 2031 by lowering its altitude. It will target a region on Earth known as South Pacific Oceanic Uninhabited Area (SPOUA), also known as Point Nemo.

 

Future of space studies

  • Private sector is expected to step into the void and develop commercial low-Earth orbit destinations.

  • Research groups or agencies can rent these spacecrafts for their missions. It will save NASA billions of dollars which it can utilize for deep-space studies.

 

Point Nemo

  • Point Nemo is known as the space graveyard, as decommissioned space objects are dumped at this location.

  • It is suitable for such operations as it is located about 2,700 km away from any land. It is named after the character from Jules Verne’s Novel.