Why Is NASA Crashing the ISS and Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried

As the International Space Station (ISS) approaches the end of its useful life, NASA has scheduled a date for the ISS to be brought back to Earth. So, why is NASA crashing the ISS, when will it happen, and where will the final resting place of this space station be? Let’s find out.

Learn in This Article

  • What Is the ISS and What Does It Do
  • Why Is NASA Crashing the ISS
  • What Is the ISS Mission
  • What Are Some of the Future Plans for Space Exploration That NASA Has in Mind

What Is the ISS and What Does It Do

First, let’s talk about the importance of this space station. The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station in the Earth’s orbit. The ISS is the largest artificial satellite in orbit and can be seen from Earth without a telescope.

The ISS consists of external trusses, solar arrays, pressurized modules, and other components. Its first component was launched into orbit on November 20th, 1998, and the ISS is now the final destination for many spacecraft. As the ISS continues to age, there has been much debate about what will happen to it when its mission ends. So why is NASA planning the ISS’s decommission?

Why Is NASA Crashing the ISS

The ISS was only approved to operate until 2024. All extensions to its tenure in space must be agreed upon by the five space agencies that have been collaborating on this project since 1998. To put it bluntly, the ISS deserves a proper retirement. So, even though it has been instrumental in many scientific breakthroughs, most of the original components are now over 20 years old. Also, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement parts. 

So, why is NASA going to crash the ISS into the ocean? Well, as bizarre as it sounds, that is the only safe way to bring it back to Earth. Let’s get into some of the details of when and where the ISS will be crashing and what will happen to it once it does.

When Will the ISS Be Crashed

NASA has rescheduled the ISS crash from 2024 to 2031. Russia sent the Nauka module, which is expected to last at least ten years, to the ISS in 2021. That means that the Russian Space Agency is willing to work with NASA beyond the initial date.

Where Will the ISS Be Crashed

Contrary to what it may sound like, the International Space Station won’t be just falling to Earth. NASA will start the process by slowly lowering the ISS from its current orbit. Once it enters the atmosphere, the ISS will burn up and break apart. From there, whatever is left of the space station will be crashing as close as possible to Point Nemo in the Pacific Ocean.

What Will Happen to the Remaining Pieces of the ISS After It Crashes into the Ocean

Whatever parts of the ISS survive from crashing into the ocean will sink to the bottom and join the other 263 pieces of space debris that have crashed into that region in the Pacific Ocean since 1971. NASA has no plans to retrieve the remains of the ISS.

What Is the ISS Mission

The ISS’s mission is to provide a unique platform for research and technology demonstration in low Earth orbit. The ISS is also a testbed for new technologies that could be used on future missions to Mars or other deep-space destinations.

How Many People Are on the ISS

There are currently seven people on the ISS—three from NASA, three from the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and one from the European Space Agency.

How Much Did It Cost to Build and Operate the ISS Over Its Lifetime

The International Space Station has been in operation for over 20 years. It has cost $150 billion to build and operate the ISS over its lifetime. That may seem like a lot of money, but it’s actually quite reasonable when you consider the project’s scope. 

The ISS is a cooperative effort involving dozens of countries, and it serves as a valuable research platform for scientists from all over the world. Overall, the ISS has been a very successful project, and its $150 billion price tag is justified by all the amazing scientific discoveries that have been made on the station.

What Are Some of the Future Plans for Space Exploration That NASA Has in Mind

One of the projects that are supposed to be implemented next, after the International Space Station has been decommissioned, is to send humans to Mars. This would be a huge undertaking and would require a lot of resources, but it would also be an incredible accomplishment. There are also plans to send astronauts to the Moon and explore and study the lunar surface in greater detail.

Another plan is to continue to explore our solar system with robots and uncrewed spacecraft. There are many planets and moons that we have not yet explored, and there is a lot that we can learn from them.

Finally, NASA also plans to continue monitoring our planet and looking for signs of life elsewhere in the universe.

Key Takeaways

  • The ISS will be crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Point Nemo in 2031.
  • The cost of building and operating the ISS is estimated to be around $150 billion.
  • Future plans for space exploration include sending humans to Mars, exploring the lunar surface, and exploring our solar system with robots and uncrewed spacecraft.
  • NASA also plans to continue monitoring our planet and looking for signs of life elsewhere in the universe.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many times does the space station orbit the Earth?

The ISS travels at about 17,500 mph and orbits the Earth every 90 minutes, meaning that it completes a full orbit approximately 16 times per day.

How high is the international space station above Earth?

The space station is approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth. 

Is the ISS going to crash?

Yes, NASA plans to crash the international space station. But why is NASA crashing the ISS? Well, put simply, it’s the safest way to bring it back to Earth.