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BAIKONUR, November 14 (Itar-Tass) —— The meeting of the heads of the ISS-program-participating agencies formed a number of commissions to determine the ISS operation term and assess the need for its further operation, Roscosmos head Vladimir Popovkin told reporters at a press conference on Monday.
The station has been in orbit for rather a long period. It must be seen in whet condition it is, he said, commenting on the words of Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov that during the planned spacewalk, together with his colleague, he would assess the condition of the covering.
Four commissions have been formed within the ISS program.
The first will determine what to do urgently if something happens to the station, he said.
The second will focus its attention on determining the maximum period for the station operation. The group has asked the cosmonauts to take samples of the outer station covering, Popovkin said.
Another commission will determine whether the station will be needed in the future. The commission will assess the plans of Russia, the European Space Agency and NASA for the further development of space programs. It will coordinate the intentions and help take a decision whether to maintain the ISS in the future.
The fourth group considers sinking of the station, he said, noting that the station weight exceeds 400 t.
Steps to discontinue its functioning must be understandable, he added.
The space station will remain in orbit till 2020.
The first ISS module Zarya was launched by Russia on November 20, 1998.