The Obama administration has officially agreed to extend the International Space Station's stay at least another 10 years, according to a report by CNN.
The ISS, which was originally supposed to stay in outer space until 2020, was given four more years by the U.S. government this week. This will give NASA more time to create technologies required for future human missions like eventually getting a human to Mars. '
"Ten years from today is a pretty far-reaching, pretty strategic-looking vision," NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters during a conference call, according to Reuters.
The ISS is approximately 250 miles above Earth and it costs $3 billion a year to operate, according to NASA. Most of the funding goes towards transporting crews and cargo to the space station.
Once 2024 hits, the ISS will be steered down into Earth's atmosphere where it will supposedly incinerate, according to NASA. The incineration will take place over a currently unidentified ocean, so debris is expected to affect populated areas on Earth.
The 15-year-old station currently hosts six crew members, including two U.S. astronauts.
"With a partnership that includes 15 nations and with 68 nations currently using the ISS in one way or another, this unique orbiting laboratory is a clear demonstration of the benefits to humankind that can be achieved through peaceful global cooperation," White House science adviser John Holdren and NASA administrator Charles Bolden said this week, according to CNN. "It is important to keep this partnership intact, with America as its leader."
NASA's international partners, which includes Russia, Europe, and Japan, have not said if they are on board with the plan yet.
All funding for the space station goes through Congress.
Station assembly began in 1998 and was completed in 2011.