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NASA to extend International Space Station to 2024

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The Orlando Sentinel reported on January 7, 2014 that the Obama administration has decided to support extending the life of the International Space Station through 2024. Both NASA and the international partners of the orbiting space lab have supported the move. Technically the ISS could survive all the way through 2028.

The Obama administration had previously extended the ISS from 2016 to 2020 as part of a new space policy that cancelled the Constellation space exploration program and went all in on government subsidized commercial space.

On the plus side the United States and her partners will get four more years of scientific value from the $100 billion space platform. The pace of science research has hit its stride, with the six person crew engaged in 50 hours a week of research projects.

Also the commercial space companies that have been slated to provide cargo and crew transportation to the ISS will have four more years of lucrative contracts, increasing their bottom line. Companies like SpaceX will have four more years to develop private markets for their government subsidized spacecraft.

On the minus side, NASA will have to spend $3 billion a year more between 2021 and 2024 to keep the ISS flying. This will be in addition to everything else the space agency has been tasked with doing, including a space exploration program that is scheduled to begin in earnest at the same time. Future presidents and congresses will have to find the money, either by increasing NASA’s budget or cutting other NASA programs.

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