The International Space Station (ISS) could remain operational until 2020 if experts agree on the program of future on-board scientific experiments, a Russian cosmonaut said on Tuesday.
The service life of the ISS ends in 2015 but participants of the project - Canada, the European Union, Japan, Russia and the United States - are currently discussing ways to extend its operation until 2020.
"Let the experts decide on the work of the station until 2020," ISS flight engineer Alexander Kaleri said in a TV link with the Russian mission control. "If they make such a decision, the ISS could work until then."
"The question is how the station will be developed and what would be the nature of experiments [on board]," said the Russian cosmonaut, who manually docked the ISS with the Progress M-08M space freighter last Saturday.
Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), said in September that the station, which has been in orbit for 10 years, had great potential and could remain operational for another decade.
The current ISS crew comprises Russian cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronauts Scott J. Kelly, Douglas Wheelock and Shannon Walker.
MISSION CONTROL, November 2 (RIA Novosti)