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The international space station (ISS) is an example of international cooperation for the sake of science where countries like the United States and Russia joined hands in spite of having divergent political leanings. This sky-lab was a joint enterprise between the US, Russia, the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan and Canada. Its purpose was to conduct space research covering various aspects related to survival in space, and it has now been continuously occupied since 2000.

BBC reports that the countdown has begun for this marvel of technology where scientists from different countries have pooled their talents. They wanted to understand space and evolve strategies of how to adjust and survive in an alien environment.

However, in another six years’ time, this will be lost forever.

A policy must be defined

In order to study space from close quarters, specially trained astronauts had to carry out research to experience the effects of living and working in conditions that are totally alien. Therefore, the International Space Station emerged as a common platform where human beings assembled to engage in space research that would benefit man. It was a joint enterprise where boundaries between countries ceased to exist, and experts from America, Russia, Europe and Japan joined forces to pave the way for space exploration.

The government funds setups like the ISS, and when priorities of the government change, the availability of funds become a major hurdle to ensure continuity of work. NASA had shelved its moon mission and was concentrating on Mars, but it will have to revert back to the moon.

President Donald Trump wants NASA to change track to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing which will come up in July 2019. Obviously, there will be a tussle for funds, and China also has its eyes on the moon which could make it a prestigious issue.

Commercialization of space

Space is an entity that is open for exploitation. While the International Space Station carries out space research, others enjoy the fruits of the labor and hard work of scientists. The ISS is a joint enterprise and scientists on board the sky-lab have devoted their talents to pursue a cause. They have opened the door to a totally new world of opportunities that include extracting minerals from the moon, space tourism and even setting up space hotels.

It seems the ISS is already involved with a private company to launch small satellites into orbit. These are transported in the Dragon capsule of SpaceX. This capsule, developed by Elon Musk, is a robotic supply ship and is being used by NASA. Right now the Russian space agency Roscosmos has plans to handle space tourism for which it wants to set up a hotel while Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, is upbeat about its ideas of space tourism.