President Vladimir Putin said Russia will build its orbital space station by 2023 during a televised Q&A session on Thursday. Russia’s decision came as the operation life of the existing International Space Station (ISS) is set to wind down.
“By 2023 we are going to create our national orbital station in orbit… We will definitely bring this project to fruition, and, no doubt, it will be under our control, said Putin.
In December last year, Oleg Ostapenko, head of Roscosmos space agency said Russia will build a new space station, which will as the country’s base for its lunar program.
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An economic necessity for Russia
Pres. Putin emphasized that a national space station is an economic necessity for Russia. According to him, Russia uses the ISS for the country’s economy and science, and it active in its maintenance. He added that only 5% of Russia’s territory could be seen from the ISS.
Putin said, “Planning a decade for the future is necessary. From the national station, of course, we will be able to see the whole territory of our vast country.”
In May 2014, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin indicated that the government considered leaving the ISS program to save funds to develop more promising space programs.
In February this year, Russia’s space agency decided that it will continue using the ISS until 2014. Rogozin recently acknowledged that it is a “good idea to stay on the space station until 2024.”
Roscosmos plans to use the existing ISS modules to build its orbital outpost. The space agency added the country’s federal space program will cost approximately $40 billion until 2025.
Several officials in Russia previously suggested that they could separate the Russian-built components from the rest of the ISS. According them, they could reassemble those parts to build their space station.
In January, there were reports that Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) will a space station.
ISS a perfect role model for Russia-US cooperation
Last month, Russian Space Chief Igor Komarov said they are working with the United States and other countries to build a new orbital space station after 2024.
“Roscosmos and NASA will fulfill the program of building a future orbital station. We will elaborate the details. It is going to be an open project, not restricted only to current participants, but open to other countries willing to join it,” said Komarov.
Meanwhile, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden recently told a House subcommittee that ISS was a “perfect role model” for cooperation between the United States and Russia.
Roscosmos recently stated that it will likely enter an agreement with NASA to send U.S. astronauts to the ISS in 2018.
The Russian space agency said, “The agreement on astronauts’ delivery to the International Space Station in 2018 is expected to be signed this fall.”
NASA stopped a majority of its joint activities with Russia except the space cooperation due to the Ukraine crisis.
The ISS is composed of different modules from the space agencies of Canada, Japan, Russia, United States and the European Space Agency. It was launched in 1998.
According to Bolden, the ISS will no longer function properly in the future. He emphasized that a replacement was needed. NASA and Roscosmos agreed that private companies should be part the future development of a new space station.
Last January, NASA reported a module of the ISS was evacuated because an alarm went off indicating an ammonia leak. The space agency confirmed later that it was a false alarm. The ISS crew stayed during the rest of that day at the Russian segment where there was no alarm.
At the time, Roscosmos explained that a “leak of harmful substances from the cooling system” caused the crew to evacuate the American module. “The crew is safe and is in the Russian segment now.”