Blaze of Glory: The Fate of the International Space Station

Amid global tensions and the expansion of privatized space travel, the ISS may soon fall back to Earth.

international space station
GETTY IMAGES

When the United States imposed sanctions on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, threatened to leave NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei stranded on the International Space Station. (Vande Hei had been waiting to catch a ride back home with the Russians.) While he has since made it to Earth safely—courtesy of a Soyuz capsule—the standoff was a painful reminder that the days of the ISS are numbered.

U.S.-Russia relations aside, China has been racing to construct its own space station, and private companies are following suit. With corporate giants like Blue Origin able to build their own space stations, NASA can leave the low-orbit game and set its sights on the moon and Mars. What does this spell for the ISS, which has been a way station for the world’s space voyagers since 2000? Most likely, within the next decade, NASA will guide it back into Earth’s atmosphere, where most of it will burn up.•

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of Alta Journal.
SUBSCRIBE

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
More From Premium