How will the end of the International Space Station unfold?

After orbiting the Earth for over thirty years, the ISS Soon, the station will begin its slow descent before passing through the atmosphere and ending its course in the Pacific Ocean. How will the process unfold?

A slow descent to the International Space Station

Launched in 1998, the International Space Station (ISS) has already rendered innumerable and proud services to science. However, this is one No longer provide adequate security guarantees After 2030, the ISS will be decommissioned in 2031. This inevitable result comes only after a long process. In 2026, the station will begin a long descent with the first stage taking the engine to an altitude of 400 to 320 km. Later, a team will be sent there to carry out a thorough cleanup. The objective is to recover any item of value Reduces weight as much as possible From the station.

After cleaning, the ISS will be at an altitude of about 280 km. Slowly absorbed into the atmosphere Earthly. However, the Russian progress freighter (see photo below) is expected to give it some momentum. On the other hand, this potential intervention does not currently provide sufficient guarantees of success. so, NASA asked the US Congress A billion dollar fund by 2024 Funding for a space shuttle It should perform better than the progress ship.

A Russian development ship, typically used as part of the supply of ISS crews.
Credit: NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Final destination: Point Nemo

After the traction phase, the ISS will be at an altitude of 120 km and will pass through the thinnest layer of the atmosphere. At a speed of 29,000 kmph, This will cause its solar panels to stagnate. At an altitude of about 80 km, the ISS modules tear apart and disintegrate due to extreme temperatures. Multiple sound bursts.

The remainder of the station must descend to the level of Point Nemo. The latter is located in the Pacific Ocean, a large stretch of sea between New Zealand and South America. known as Earth is a space graveyardNemo Point ensures no human life and almost zero underwater life due to lack of nutrients.

This whole process can be very difficult, esp Due to the mass of the ISS. In fact, the 450-ton International Space Station is a heavyweight compared to the Mir station’s 120 tons (1986-2001) and the Skylab station’s 90 tons (1973-1979).

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