The Trump administration is planning to withdraw from the engineering marvel orbiting the earth, the International Space Station (ISS) beyond December 2024, as per the agreements made by ex-President Barack Obama during his period.
International Space Station was developed by NASA in partnership with Russia, Japan, Canada, and the European Union as a human habitat outside earth to conduct unique scientific experiments in the space.
Russia launched the first component for the space station in 1998. NASA and its other partners have attached several parts to the station gradually. The US government has spent nearly $100 billion on the ISS for its development, repair, research and various missions. NASA is hopeful to find ways to sustain it at least up to 2028.
The space station is beset with frequent damage due to harsh space environment but is frequently repaired by the onboard astronauts during their missions.
At around 250 miles from earth, ISS has hosted astronauts since November 2, 2000. It is currently occupied by 6 astronauts from of the Expedition 54 crew. Russian Space agency ROSCOSMOS has 4 astronauts aboard ISS while NASA and Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has 1 each.
NASA said it is "committed to full scientific and technical research on the orbiting laboratory, as it is the foundation on which we will extend human presence deeper into space."
Meanwhile, the US government under President Donald Trump has plans to develop a deep space gateway in the Moon's orbit by 2020. Russia and Japan have announced their support for the new lunar space station.
Private aerospace companies like SpaceX and Lockheed Martin have partnered with NASA to develop technologies to sent humans to Mars.
Orion spacecraft is already used for carrying astronauts while SpaceX Dragon will start this mission soon. Dragon has been used to send supplies to the space station and return experiment samples and supplies back to earth.
Boeing, which operates ISS for NASA stated, "Walking away from the station would be a mistake, threatening American leadership in space and hurting the commercial market as well as the scientific community."
US vice president Mike Pence said that the government aims to maintain a constant commercial, human presence in low earth orbit. This might involve attracting private companies for a transition of the space station or development of a new low earth orbit space station.
However, ROSCOMOS, European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, and JAXA have not remarked on the US exit from ISS.
China plans to send the first component for their new space station called "Tianhe-1" this year. The space station will be completed in 2020 and might take the role of ISS in future. China's Tiangong 2 is the only functional space station orbiting earth other than the ISS. Another Chinese space station Tiangong 1 which has seized functioning since March 21, 2016, is falling back to earth.
Altogether around 14 space stations have been sent to space since 1971. US, Russia, and China have built their own space station so far. Several private companies are also planning to join the segment soon.