There’s no reason why the International Space Station can’t remain active well past 2020, Boeing officials told members of the media Tuesday in Arlington, Va. In fact, the company recently uploaded nine million lines of software code to the space station, and they have plans to upgrade its environmental control station and also add high-definition TVs, said John Elbon, Boeing’s vice president of space exploration. There also is a study under way to certify the station through 2028, he said. “We are undergoing a change in space exploration. After going through a very stable period of shuttle launches, we went through several years of national debate of what’s next for space,” said Elbon. “We finally settled on a plan of continuing to use the station and focusing on human exploration into deep space.” Atlantis, the final space shuttle, landed last July at Cape Canaveral, Fla., closing out three decades of US shuttle flights. Thursday marks the 31st anniversary of the first shuttle flight.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.