The International Space Station (ISS) will continue working until 2030, before plunging into the Pacific Ocean in early 2031, National Space Agency (NASA) has revealed .
In a new report, the US space agency said the ISS will crash into a part of the ocean known as Point Nemo, which is the point furthest from land on planet Earth, also known as the spacecraft cemetery.
According to NASA, many old satellites and other space debris have crashed there, including the Russian space station Mir in 2001.
The ISS which is a joint project involving five space agencies has been in orbit since 1998. More than 3,000 research investigations have taken place in its microgravity laboratory.
But the license to operate ends in 2024 and any extension must be agreed by all partners including Russia who have complained of being hampered by US sanctions on Russia.
Nasa says the plan to retire the ISS marks a transition to the commercial sector for activities in low-Earth orbit – the area of space close to Earth.
“The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with Nasa’s assistance,” said Phil McAlister, director of commercial space at NASA Headquarters.
Nasa says it hopes to create a “robust, American-led commercial economy in low-Earth orbit”.
According to Nasa, it will save $1.3bn (£956m) by transitioning to the private sector for activities in low-Earth orbit, money which instead can be spent on deep space exploration.