The heads of the International Space Station (ISS) agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States met in Tokyo, Japan, on March 11, 2010, to review ISS cooperation.
With the assembly of the ISS nearing completion and the capability to support a full-time crew of six established, they noted the outstanding opportunities now offered by the ISS for on-orbit research and for discovery including the operation and management of the world's largest international space complex. In particular, they noted the unprecedented opportunities that enhanced use of this unique facility provides to drive advanced science and technology. This research will deliver benefits to humanity on Earth while preparing the way for future exploration activities beyond low-Earth orbit. The ISS will also allow the partnership to experiment with more integrated international operations and research, paving the way for enhanced collaboration on future international missions.
The heads of agency reaffirmed the importance of full exploitation of the station's scientific, engineering, utilization, and education potential. They noted that there are no identified technical constraints to continuing ISS operations beyond the current planning horizon of 2015 to at least 2020, and that the partnership is currently working to certify on-orbit elements through 2028. The heads of agency expressed their strong mutual interest in continuing operations and utilization for as long as the benefits of ISS exploitation are demonstrated. They acknowledged that a U.S. fiscal year 2011 budget consistent with the U.S. administration's budget request would allow the United States to support the continuation of ISS operations and utilization activities to at least 2020. They emphasized their common intent to undertake the necessary procedures within their respective governments to reach consensus later this year on the continuation of the ISS to the next decade.
In looking ahead, the heads of agency discussed the importance of increasing ISS utilization and operational efficiency by all possible means, including finding and coordinating efficiencies across the ISS Program and assuring the most effective use of essential capabilities, such as space transportation for crew and cargo, for the life of the program.