March 12th, 2010

At the recent meeting in Tokyo of the Heads of Agency supporting the International Space Station Joint Statement an important decision about the extension of the ISS exploitation has been taken. Exploitation of the ISS will be extended from 2015 to 2020 at least, and possibly to 2028. Since AMS-02 will not return to Earth after its installation on the ISS on 2010, the decision to extend the duration of ISS operations will have a potentially significant impact on the scientific perspectives of the experiment, which, being designed to search for rare events and to measure weak signals, could gain in sensitivity by a longer data taking space. The Heads of Agency noted in particular:   


 […..] the unprecedented opportunities that enhanced use of this unique facility provides to drive advanced science and technology. This research will deliver benefits to humanity on Earth while preparing the way for future exploration activities beyond low-Earth orbit. The ISS will also allow the partnership to experiment with more integrated international operations and research, paving the way for enhanced collaboration on future international missions [….] there are no identified technical constraints to continuing ISS operations beyond the current planning horizon of 2015 to at least 2020, and that the partnership is currently working to certify on-orbit elements through 2028. The heads of agency expressed their strong mutual interest in continuing operations and utilization for as long as the benefits of ISS exploitation are demonstrated.

The full text of the Heads of Agency statement can be found here