Moscow: Built with great difficulty and labour, the International Space Station (ISS) will be de-orbited and sunk in the Pacific Ocean after 2020 like its Russian predecessor Mir, a top Russian official said Wednesday.
Russian space agency Roscosmos deputy head Vitaly Davydov said: "We will be forced to sink the ISS. We cannot leave it in orbit as it is a very complicated and a heavy object. There must be no space waste from it."
"We have agreed with our partners that the ISS would function roughly until 2020," he added.
The space station`s life was initially estimated at 15 years.
The ISS has been functioning for 13 years now after receiving numerous international space expeditions. It was launched in 1998.
Asked whether a new space station will be built, Davydov said: "There are several possibilities".
The Mir space station was in operation from 1983 to 1998 before it was sunk in the Pacific in a "spacecraft cemetery" near Christmas Island in 2000.
The agreement to construct the ISS was signed Jan 29, 1998, in Washington by representatives from Canada, 11 members of the European Space Agency - that included Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Britain - alongwith Japan, Russia and the US.
The ISS was launched Nov 20, 1998.