Since 2000, the ISS has continuously housed a rotating group of astronauts from 19 countries. The station has the only laboratory for long-duration microgravity research and has been instrumental in a number of scientific developments including creating more efficient water filtration systems and exploring new ways to treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
“The International Space Station is currently approved to operate through at least December 2024 with our agreements with the international partners,” said Angela Hart, manager of the Commercial Low Earth Orbit Program Office at NASA. “However, as we are actively working to continue to do science and research, we understand that the ISS at some point will have its end of life.”
But NASA will likely not build the next space station. Instead, the agency will depend on the technology of outside companies. A few, like Sierra Space in Colorado and Houston-based Axiom Space, are well on their way to constructing their own commercial space stations.
Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction