ESA will participate with ISS through 2024

The 22 member states that participate in the European Space Agency (ESA) met for two days recently in Switzerland and came to the decision to continue ESA participation in the International Space Station (ISS). The ESA member states voted to extend participation in the ISS through 2024. The decision makes the ESA the final ISS partner that has agreed to extend participation.

"I'm excited all the International Space Station partners have now joined us in committing to [the] operation of this invaluable resource through at least 2024," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a statement on ESA's commitment. "The European Space Agency contributions to station are essential, and we look forward to continuing to work with ESA, the Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Roscosmos for extended operations, and to collaborating with other nations to push the boundaries of human exploration, and extend our reach farther into the Solar System as part of the ongoing Journey to Mars."

The decision to extend participation through 2024 will cost the ESA about 807 million euros, or about $861 million on usage and another 153 million euros ($163 million) on science experiments. The move also allows more ESA astronauts to visit the ISS. ESA is already building a service module for the EM-1 Orion spacecraft to meet some of its annual share of the space stations operating costs.

After agreeing to extend its participation, the ESA will build a second service module. Interestingly when the ISS was originally put into orbit, 2016 was seen as the end-of-mission, but that was quickly extended to 2020 after launch. The US first signaled it wanted to extend the mission through 2024 in 2014. Boeing and Energia were the two main contractors for space station assembly back in 2011 and the two firms are currently investigating whether or not the ISS could operate through 2028. Some current modules on the space station have been in orbit since 1998 and 2000.

SOURCE: Spaceflight