The Russian government has agreed to prolong life of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos Igor Komarov said.
"The government has approved our joint proposal [of partner countries] on the extension of ISS life until 2024," Komarov said early on Thursday, adding that political disagreements between the partner states have not affected the ISS program.
On Thursday the Russian Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft successfully brought Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren to the ISS.
They are joining he current ISS Expedition 44 comprising Russian cosmonauts Commander Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.
The ISS program is a joint project among five participating space agencies: the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Russia's Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
The station is divided into two sections - the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS).
The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews. It has been continuously occupied for over 14 years since the arrival of Expedition 1 in November 2000.
Russian Soyuz rockets are currently the only provider of human transport to the ISS.