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NASA to Retire the International Space Station by 2030, Replacing It With a Private Sector Solution

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NASA believes an extension to 2030 is possible. Of course, a looming question the agency must consider is whether commercial destinations will be available in time to avoid a substantial gap in access to low Earth orbit.Currently, the space station faces myriad challenges from its exposure to elements in space.

Ionizing radiation, significant temperature fluctuations, structural loading pressures such as docking and undocking of vehicles, and the threats of meteoroids and orbital debris all challenge the Station’s structure.Also, NASA recently discovered air leaks and cracks in the Station’s Service Module Transfer Tunnel.

This connects the Service Module to eight docking areas on the International Space Station. While models suggest the gaps shouldn’t exist, possible causes of the leaks may include structural fatigue, internal or external damage, and material defects.This discovery warrants an updated analysis of the structural integrity and lifespan of other space station areas.

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