ISS will be crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Point Nemo in 2031 NASA says the International Space Station will stop operating at the end of 2030. After that, the space agency plans to crash the football field-sized craft into a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.

What will happen to the International Space Station when it is retired?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


The International Space Station launched in the year 2000, and since then, it's been home to astronauts from 19 different countries. They've racked up countless scientific achievements while orbiting above Earth. But come the year 2031, NASA says the space lab will be relocated.


Relocated to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

MIKE WALL: It's the safest place to bring down a big spacecraft that's reached the end of its life. That's a good thing to take into account when you're thinking about de-orbiting something as big as the International Space Station. It's pretty big. You know, it's as long as a football field.

MARTIN: This is Mike Wall, he writes for And he says it was inevitable that the space station would come down to a place called Point Nemo, the farthest point from land, where many spacecraft have ended their days.

WALL: Things get old in space. Things start to show their age. There have been some cracks discovered that were letting air out, causing leaks. That sort of stuff happens.

INSKEEP: So the station is old, though NASA plans to give it another nine years, Three decades altogether, which would be pretty good if it was a car. Future missions, like a mission to Mars, will depend on newer platforms, many of them coming from the private sector.

WALL: It'll save them lots of money and they can focus on doing harder things like putting boots on Mars, which they want to do in the 2030s.


Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.