Space Station to Fall to Earth—Find Out How and Where
Despite reports, orbiting lab will likely survive past 2020, NASA says.
Officially NASA, Roscosmos, and partners in Japan, Europe, and Canada have agreed to keep the station operational until at least 2020, but "that's only half the story," said NASA spokesperson Joshua Buck.
"The international partners have been discussing extending the mission through 2028. At this point, there's no reason we wouldn't do that."
(Related: "After Space Shuttle, Does U.S. Have a Future in Space?")
Still, at some point the mission will end, and the orbiting laboratory will be directed to plunge toward Earth. The station can't simply be left in orbit, or it will eventually fall from the skies on its own, raining debris over a wide swath of the planet and possibly endangering people on the ground.
So what exactly will happen