BEIJING, July 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Russia and its partners have decided to plunge the International Space Station (ISS) into the ocean at the end of its life cycle after 2020, its space agency said on Wednesday.
"After it completes its existence, we will be forced to sink the ISS. It cannot be left in orbit, it's too complex, too heavy an object, it can leave behind lots of rubbish," said Vitaly Davydov, deputy head of Roskosmos space agency.
"Right now we've agreed with our partners that the station will be used until approximately 2020," he said.
Space junk is becoming an increasingly serious headache for man's space exploration.
A piece of space debris narrowly missed the space station last month, and forced the six-member crew to scramble to their rescue craft.
Launched in 1998, the ISS was initially expected to remain in space for 15 years until an agreement was reached to keep it operating through 2020.
By going into a sea grave, the ISS will repeat the fate of its predecessor space station Mir, which Russia sank in the Pacific Ocean in 2001 after 15 years of service.