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Europe has now formally agreed to the extension of the operations at the International Space Station (ISS) until 2020. The work, which started in 1998, is still far from being over, but significant progress is made every single year, even in harsh periods like the one we are going through now. The decisions were taken at a two day meeting that was held at its quarters in Paris.

Europe is an 8% partner in the ISS project, along with the US, Russia, Japan and Canada. Esa’s space station manager, Bernardo Patti, said the announcement from council was a significant development.

“This is the formal acceptance from the member states that the space station will last until 2020 and will be supported financially; and that is really excellent news,” he told BBC News.”Now that ISS is built, the emphasis in the coming years will be to maximise its exploitation.”

By the end of the decade, it is expected that Europe will spend 9bn euros on the project.