Russia's space agency hopes to launch its own orbiting science lab by 2030 after entering talks with NASA to pull out of the International Space Station in the coming years.
On Wednesday, Roscosmos indicated it was waiting for the thumbs up from President Putin to build the new platform, which will not be constantly manned due to the level of radiation from its planned orbit, and will use robots and machine-learning software. The lab is intended to get a good view of potential Arctic shipping routes for the Kremlin, and an initial module of the structure could be launched as early as 2025.
In the meantime, Russia intends to either hand its section of the International Space Station (ISS) to the Americans and their pals in 2025, or commercialize its portion of the lab. We note the Kremlin's agreement to be involved in the orbiting station is due to run out in 2024, and it appears there's no appetite to renew that commitment.
"We are beginning negotiations with our NASA partners," Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said earlier today, according to the Interfax news agency. "We are formalizing them now, and it does not mean that the station will be scrapped and dumped into the ocean immediately after 2025.
It does not mean that the station will be scrapped and dumped into the ocean immediately after 2025.
"We will simply hand over the responsibility for our segment to the partners. Or we will do the work necessary for operating the station on the commercial basis, rather than at the expense of the budget."
Some years back, NASA mulled offloading the ISS to the commercial world around the mid-2020s, though there is skepticism that will be possible. The creaky station is thus expected to be operated by the public sector until at least 2028, and the proposed Artemis Moon landing program could spark renewed enthusiasm for the longest-occupied off-planet platform.
Speaking of the new Russian station, which may cost around $6bn, Rogozin continued: "If in 2030, in accordance with our plans, we can put it into orbit, it will be a colossal breakthrough. The will is there to take a new step in world manned space exploration."
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Over the weekend, state TV reported that Russian deputy prime minister Yury Borisov believed it was time to bail out of the International Space Station due the deteriorating state of the 23-year-old platform – by which he probably also meant the deteriorating state of US-Russia relations.
"The situation that today is connected to the structure and the metal getting old, it can lead to irreversible consequences, to catastrophe," Borisov was quoted as saying. "We mustn't let that happen."
What with the ongoing sanctions and rows over election inference and counter-attacks, and escalating tensions over Ukraine, it's hard to imagine the genesis of the International Space Station in 1998, a collaboration between America and Russia that grew to include Canada, Japan, and Europe. ®