Space Station Will Plunge Into Pacific After 2020
Station won't be left to become space junk
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2011 1:20 AM CDT
Updated Jul 28, 2011 5:41 AM CDT
The International Space Station as seen from a departing space shuttle.   (NASA)
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(Newser) – The International Space Station's grave will be a watery one, not a cosmic one. The colossal orbiting outpost will be deliberately crashed into the Pacific Ocean when it reaches the end of its working life some time after 2020, AP reports. "It cannot be left in orbit, it's too complex, too heavy an object. It can leave behind lots of rubbish," the deputy head of Russia's space agency announced yesterday.

The ISS, which consists of more than a dozen modules built by the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and the European Space Agency, was originally scheduled to be destroyed in a controlled descent in 2015, but the US recently extended its life until 2020 and may still seek to keep it going until 2028. Russian space officials say they're not sure what will come after the ISS— but they stress that they believe "serious exploration" of space must involve manned flights.