from the crash-and-burn dept.
NASA has announced plans for the International Space Station (ISS) to be officially decommissioned in 2031. After dozens of launches since 1998 got the station up and into orbit, bringing it down will be a feat of its own—the risks are serious if things go wrong.
NASA's plans for the decommissioning operation will culminate in a fiery plunge into the middle of the Pacific Ocean—a location called Point Nemo, also known as the "spacecraft graveyard," the furthest point from all civilisation.
Finding Point Nemo will be the final stop in a complex and multi-staged mission to transition the operations of the ISS to new commercial space stations, and to bring the remaining structure safely down to Earth.
Originally commissioned for a 15-year lifespan, the ISS is outliving all expectations. It has already been in operation for 21 years, and NASA has given the go-ahead for one more decade, thereby doubling its total planned time in orbit.