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NASA Says ISS Coming Down in 2016

A Washington Post article is reporting that NASA plans to close shop on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015, and dump the entire station into the Pacific Ocean in 2016. Even more, the space station is only now nearing completion, costing taxpayers and "government partners" a whopping $100 billion to construct thus far. Orbiting just 220 miles above the earth, the space station has serves as a symbol of humanity's desire to reach beyond the atmosphere, to eventually explore and conquer its rugged neighbors. Now NASA wants to bring that icon down in a huge fiery ball.

According to Michael T. Suffrendini, the NASA space station program manager, NASA is steadfast in its plans to de-orbit the space station, throwing away years of progress and taxpayer money. "In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and de-orbit the spacecraft," said Suffredini.

So why bring it down? Apparently, there's a lack of funds to keep the station alive. After all, the metallic beast has already cost $100 billion. NASA also plans to retire the decrepit Space Shuttle fleet by the end of 2010, forcing each astronaut to hitch a $51 million ride skyward with the Russian Soyuz spacecraft; the American-made replacement won't be available for flight until 2014.

However, many disagree with NASA's plans for the ISS, especially when considering the investment. "If we've spent a hundred billion dollars, I don't think we want to shut it down in 2015," said Senator Bill Nelson in a statement to the Washington Post.  "My opinion is it would be a travesty to de-orbit this thing. If we get rid of this darned thing in 2015, we're going to cede our leadership in human exploration."

Although NASA is not officially lobbying to extend the ISS' mission, it is trying to determine what resources will be needed to extend its lifespan well into the 2020s. But for now, there's no long term funding for the space station beyond 2015. The last components are expected to be installed by the end of next year.