NASA and White House officials are announcing plans today (Jan. 8) to keep the International Space Station running through at least 2024 — a four-year life extension for the largest spacecraft ever built.
The NASA decision will allow scientists to use the International Space Station for at least the next 10 years, maximizing the science return on the $100 billion orbiting laboratory, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's chief of exploration and human spaceflight operations, said in a teleconference. Previous lifetime projections for the space station called for it be shut down in 2020.
...Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin voiced disapproval of this decision, saying they would go toe-to-toe with US threats and could potentially cut off access to the ISS. He also quipped that the US should deliver its astronauts to the ISS via trampoline. At the time of that announcement, the United States had two astronauts onboard, leaving some to speculate about their fate. Rick Mastracchio returned to Earth just yesterday, but Steven Swanson is still onboard. Gregory Wiseman is currently scheduled to launch to the ISS on May 28 for Expedition 40 and that plan does not appear to have changed.
NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, Expedition 36 flight engineer, works to setup the Multi-Purpose Small Payload Rack (MSPR) fluorescence microscope in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. This configuration, along with the leak checks that the crew performed in June, is in preparation for the Aniso Tubule experiment launching on HTV-4 in August. Aniso Tubule will investigate the role of cortical microtubules and microtubule-associated proteins in plant growth while in microgravity.