You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NASA says International Space Station will retire, then crash into the Pacific Ocean in 2031

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/3/2022 Asha C. Gilbert, USA TODAY

NASA plans to retire the International Space Station at the end of 2030 and crash it into the Pacific Ocean in an area called Point Nemo, according to a NASA press release.

After three decades, a private sector will be taking over operations in future space travel and NASA will continue to support the transition. 

“The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with NASA’s assistance. We look forward to sharing our lessons learned and operations experience with the private sector to help them develop safe, reliable, and cost-effective destinations in space,” Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters, said in the release. 

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

The extension of operations at the space station until 2030 was backed by the Biden administration and the station is "busier than ever" conducting experiments for government agencies and advancing technologies to send the first woman and first person of color to the moon, and the first humans to Mars.

'Amazing experience': Japanese space tourists safely return to Earth after visit to International Space Station

What's everyone talking about?: Sign up for our trending newsletter to get the latest news of the day

“The International Space Station is entering its third and most productive decade as a groundbreaking scientific platform in microgravity,” Robyn Gatens, director of the space station at NASA Headquarters, said in the release. 

The space station first launched in November 1998 and has orbited the Earth over 100,000 times. In October 2026, the spacecraft will begin its journey back toward Earth and crash at Point Nemo in January 2031, according to the transition report attached to the release. 

A goal outlined in the transition report is to engage a diverse group of students to create a future diverse space workforce.

"Today’s youth are tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, and researchers," NASA said. "It is thus crucial to our nation and NASA’s efforts to maintain the interest and curiosity of today’s students so they continue to be inspired by and participate in the wide scope of space exploration roles."

Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email:

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NASA says International Space Station will retire, then crash into the Pacific Ocean in 2031



image beaconimage beaconimage beacon