NASA denies the Russian claim that the Zarya module of the International Space Station where the living quarters of two cosmonauts are located has suffered 'bad' cracks. The American space agency spokesman said that no current issues affect the crew, and operations in the space station remain normal. 

Although NASA vehemently denies this issue, is the ISS nearing its end? Where would they dispose of the space station after the end of its operations?

 Could the International Space Station Be Nearing its End? NASA Denies Russian Claims of 'Bad' Cracks
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-134 crew member on the space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. The undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 11:55 p.m. (EDT) on May 29, 2011. Endeavour spent 11 days, 17 hours, and 41 minutes attached to the orbiting laboratory.

NASA Denies 'Superficial Fissures' in International Space Station

According to Daily Mail, Russian rocket and space corporation Energia chief engineer Vladimir Solovyov said on Monday that "superficial fissures" were discovered in some places of the Zarya module in the International Space Station. The module is also known as the Functional Cargo Block, where two cosmonauts' living quarters are located. 

Solovyov told Russian state-owned news RIA that the situation is bad because fissures would begin to spread over time. However, he did not provide further details on the cracks that are supposed to cause the leak on the module. The safety of the crew was also not discussed.

He noted that a significant portion of the equipment in the space station is already aging, warning that scientists might see an avalanche of defective equipment after 2025.

However, these allegations were once again denied by NASA. "There are currently no issues impacting crew or normal International Space Station operations, and no new potential leak sites have been identified," a spokesman for the American space agency told Daily Mail.

They added that they are in regular contact with their international partners, including Roscosmos, to coordinate station operations.

It remains unclear whether this new Russian comment responds to NASA's answer to an earlier claim made earlier this month about a hole allegedly drilled by a NASA astronaut three years ago. As Science Times previously reported, this allegation was also denied.

ALSO READ: International Space Station Faces Inevitable Repairs

Point Nemo: Watery Space Cemetery Where Space Stations Go To Die

The first parts of the International Space Station were launched in 1998, and humans have started living on the space station two years later. However, after over two decades of operation, signs of aging in the floating laboratory are undeniable. Eventually, it will be deorbited and pulled back to Earth.

Perhaps it will happen in its 30th year in 2028, or even later. According to Thomas Insights, preventing new space junk is an increasing priority in planning the end of the ISS. It would likely burn up during re-entry, but some parts of it will survive. So, where on Earth will the defunct satellite be disposed of?

An article in How Stuff Works suggests that the space station would likely end up in an area called "space cemetery," a region near Point Nemo. It is the furthest point from any landmass on Earth, about 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) east of New Zealand. The chances of hitting someone or a passing boat are extremely low.

The space cemetery received its first defunct satellite in 1971. Since then, it has received 260 more spacecraft, wherein the majority were of Russian origin. The most prestigious spacecraft was the Soviet-built precursor of the ISS known as Mir, which cruised above the planet from 1986 to 2001.

RELATED ARTICLE: Russia Says ISS Will Retire Soon Due to New Cracks Found in the Space Station's Walls

Check out more news and information on the International Space Station on Science Times.