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New Russian space chief clarifies comments about International Space Station departure

Russia controls six modules on the International Space Station, which has been hosting astronaut crews continuously since 2000.

Russia controls six modules on the International Space Station, which includes been hosting astronaut crews continuously since 2000.(Image credit: NASA)

Yuri Borisov, the brand new head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, expanded on comments he made the other day indicating the country’s intent to disassociate from the International Space Station “after 2024.”

It seems a few of that message might have been lost in translation. Within an interview with Russia 24, a state-run Russian news channel, Borisov clarified, “We announced that people intend to do that not in 2024, but after 2024. In Russian, they are two big differences.”

The interview (opens in new tab) was posted to the Roscosmos website in Russian; quotes printed within English were translated using Google Translate. In the interview, Borisov outlined the underlying strategy Roscosmos is taking toward its International Space Station (ISS) departure plans and clarified the agency’s intent to transport on in accordance with international agreements. “The task for the withdrawal of the Russian side from the international ISS project is actually regulated,” Borisov explained.

Related: How exactly to see and track the International Space Station

“We should warn our colleagues per year in advance that people can do this for such and such circumstances. We’ve not warned [NASA] concerning this yet; you don’t have because of this. We just said that after 2024 we shall start the exit process,” Borisov said in the interview. He added that the withdrawal “may take up to 2 yrs.” He also said such notice might come at some time during 2024 or 2025.

Borisov’s comments aren’t exactly stunning; Russian space officials reportedly told their NASA counterparts the other day that Roscosmos really wants to stay static in the ISS partnership for some time yet ideally, until Russia gets its space station ready to go in 2028 or thereabouts.

“About 2 yrs ago, we started to seriously consider continuing the [crewed] program and creating a domestic orbital station,” Borisov said. He cited the “authoritative opinion of several experts” predicting the heightened chance for cascade failures in ISS systems after 2024 the stated reasoning behind his “2024” remarks earlier in the week.

“Enough time our cosmonauts, including American astronauts, devote to looking for possible malfunctions and eliminating them begins to exceed all reasonable limits. That is done at the trouble of scientific research,” said Borisov.

Actually, NASA can be considering its plans for low Earth orbit access following retirement of the ISS. For instance, the American space agency has awarded funding to multiple companies to develop commercial space stations to take the baton from the ISS. Although orbiting lab is officially approved to use only through 2024, NASA really wants to keep writing and running through 2030. Borisov sees a spot of diminishing returns before that later date, however.

The Roscosmos chief asserted that, because most of the U.S. modules on the ISS are newer compared to the almost all the Russian section, the Russian modules don’t possess many useful science contributions left to create.

“The lion’s share of plans because of this orbital inclination (51.6 degrees), specifically, experiments on the ISS, have already been completed,” he said. “From the scientific perspective, we usually do not see any extra dividends by stretching this technique until 2030. And the funds which will be allocated to maintaining the Russian part and our participation are huge.”

Related: NASA looks to private outposts to create on International Space Station’s legacy

Russia’s premature departure may derail NASA’s hopes to keep flying the ISS through the finish of the decade. NASA recently tested the power of an exclusive American Cygnus cargo vehicle to perform an altitude correction for the area station, which requires periodic boosts to keep its orbit. Up to now, Russian Soyuz and Progress vehicles have already been responsible for undertaking ISS orbital corrections.

A 2022 report from the team of NASA and Roscosmos engineers outlines an idea to deorbit the ISS in a controlled manner using three Russian Progress freighters, but it’s unclear whether altitude boosts from Cygnus could translate to an identical capability. Borisov told Russia 24, “In the opinion of our Western colleagues and our specialists, probably, this can not be possible without Russian participation.”

Thankfully, cooperation can be a priority for the brand new head of the Russian space agency at the very least in comparison to his predecessor Dmitry Rogozin, who became popular for blustery and antagonistic statements, especially following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The ISS project has enriched world science in neuro-scientific understanding of the universe and the planet earth, has given all participants in this technique new knowledge, and contains united us somewhat. I really believe that both today and in the foreseeable future, such projects ought to be out of politics,” Borisov said. “I’m very sorry that sometimes in this difficult time our joint projects in space, which are of interest to all or any mankind, commence to provide a political coloring. It isn’t right.”

Moreover, Borisov appeared to concede that Roscosmos has fallen behind various other countries’ space agencies. “If we compare today hawaii of the area constellations of the primary players in the forex market Americans, Europeans and Chinese they have long overtaken us in this regard.”

Borisov added that Roscosmos “owes” the Russian economy and stated his intent to radically restructure “the primary processes of the technological cycle, such as for example development, production [and] testing,” at the Russian space agency.

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Josh Dinner is really a freelance writer, photographer and videographer covering space exploration, human spaceflight along with other subjects. He’s got covered from rocket launches and NASA’s Artemis 1 Space Launch System megarocket to SpaceX astronaut launches for NASA. To discover Josh’s latest space project, visit his website (opens in new tab) and follow him on Instagram (opens in new tab)and Facebook (opens in new tab).

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