Reuters

Space station's uncertain future

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Backdropped by Earth, the International Space Station (ISS) is seen photographed from the space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation, in this undated NASA handout photo. REUTERS/NASA

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Astronaut James H. Newman waves during a spacewalk preparing for the release of the first combined elements of the ISS on November 20, 1998. The Russian-built Zarya module, with its solar array panel visible here, was launched into orbit on November 20, 1998. Two weeks later, December 4, 1998. NASA's space shuttle Endeavour launched Unity, the first U.S. piece of the complex. During three spacewalks on the STS-88 mission, the two...

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U.S. astronaut Michael Hopkins (L), Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov (C) and Sergey Ryazanskiy pose inside the Soyuz spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome, September 14, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Remezov

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The Soyuz spacecraft prepares to dock with the ISS in this still image taken from video November 7, 2013. REUTERS/NASA TV

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The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard launches from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, September 18, 2013. The spacecraft will deliver about 1,300 lbs of cargo, including food and clothing, to the ISS. REUTERS/Bill Ingalls/NASA

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Astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, participates in the second of two spacewalks which took place on December 24, 2013. The scheduled spacewalks were designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting ISS. REUTERS/NASA

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NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg participates in an onboard training activity at the robotics workstation in the ISS Cupola, in this image released on August 9, 2013, in preparation for the grapple and berthing of the Japanese "Kounotori" H2 Transfer Vehicle-4 set for August 9, 2013. REUTERS/NASA

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The Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of U.S. astronaut Steven Swanson, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev blasts off from its launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, Expedition 37 flight engineer, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin commander (R), and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, flight engineer, pose for a photo in the Kibo laboratory of the ISS in this October 14, 2013. REUTERS/NASA

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Backdropped by the blackness of space, the ISS is seen in this image taken by a crew member aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis during rendezvous and docking activities November 18, 2009. REUTERS/NASA

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NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy using a 400mm lens on a digital still camera photographs a target of opportunity on Earth some 250 miles below him from inside the Cupola aboard the ISS in this image released on June 10, 2013. REUTERS/NASA

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The ISS crew opens a hatch to begin unloading cargo on September 30, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Johnson Space Centre

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The unmanned U.S. commercial cargo ship Cygnus is seen being attached to the ISS September 29, 2013 in this still image from video. REUTERS/NASA TV

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The Soyuz spacecraft approaches the International Space Station (ISS) in this still image taken from video November 7, 2013.REUTERS/NASA TV

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NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg demonstrates how she washes her hair in zero gravity aboard the ISS in this still image taken from video released July 12, 2013. REUTERS/NASA

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NASA Expedition 35 Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy conducts a spacewalk to inspect and replace a pump controller box on the ISS's far port truss (P6) leaking ammonia coolant in this NASA handout photo taken May 11, 2013. REUTERS/NASA

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Earth is seen behind the ISS from Space Shuttle Discovery as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation on September 8, 2009. REUTERS/NASA

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Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia is pictured in thisphoto taken by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield February 26, 2013, aboard the ISS. REUTERS/Chris Hadfield/NASA

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The Canadarm2 is pictured in this photo taken by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield February 25, 2013, aboard the ISS courtesy of NASA. REUTERS/Chris Hadfield/NASA

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NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Expedition 32 flight engineer, takes part in a spacewalk outside the ISS September 5, 2012. REUTERS/NASA

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The Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft approaches the International Space Station, carrying Expedition 37 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kotov, NASA Flight Engineer Michael Hopkins and Russian Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy in this NASA image released on September 26, 2013.REUTERS/NASA

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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide takes a ride on the end of the space arm during a spacewalk outside the ISS, August 30, 2012 in this still image taken from video. REUTERS/NASA

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Expedition 37 commander Fyodor Yurchikhin holds the Olympic torch that will be used to light the Olympic flame for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia after Expedition 38 cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin handed it over aboard the ISS in this still image from NASA Tv video, November 7, 2013. REUTERS/NASA Tv

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The bright sun greets the ISS in this photo taken from the Russian section of the orbital outpost by one of the STS-129 crew members November 22, 2009. REUTERS/NASA

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The Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft is transported from the assembling hangar to its launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome March 23, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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