When the International Space Station is Finished in 2020, We're Crashing It Into the Ocean

Russian plan will avoid turning obsolete ISS into space junk

The ISS, Taken by Endeavour Feb. 9, 2010

In what is sure to be one of the most--if not the most--expensive crashes ever, Russia's space agency said today that when the International Space Station has completed its life cycle in 2020, it will be crashed into the ocean.

By our count, that's a $4.5 billion crash (that's not counting the more than $2 billion per year spent to keep the ISS in service since 1998). But better to crash in the ocean than in orbit, Roskosmos's (that's the Russian space agency) deputy head said today. The ISS is simply too big to leave in orbit--a collision with something up there could lead to a huge proliferation in orbiting space junk.

It's the same fate that met the Mir in 2001, which Russia deorbited and sank in the Pacific. If I were the head of a major television network, I'd be trying to secure the rights to the next impact now. A multibillion piece of sophisticated orbiting space habitat is sure to make a serious splash.