The White House has permitted NASA to continue operating the International Space Station for at least another 10 years through at least 2024, aiming to continue research and collaboration work on the ISS.
NASA and its partners in the private sector also intend for the additional time to help with the transition of cargo and crew transportation responsibilities to the commercial space sector, according to a Wednesday blog post by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Bolden and Holdren write the space agency also plans to increase its focus on developing the next-generation heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule for exploring deep space.
With the extension in place, NASA will work to complete research projects on the ISS ahead of planned long-duration human missions beyond low-Earth orbit, including a flight to an asteroid with a target date of 2025 and to Mars sometime in the 2030s.
Fifteen countries are partners in the space station and 68 countries use the ISS, according to Bolden and Holdren.