The shock announcement comes as NASA edges closer to ending its reliance on Roscosmos for launching crews into orbit. The International Space Station (ISS) is expected to remain operational for another decade but Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin believes Russia needs to take proactive measures on a future station now.
Speaking to Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda, Mr Rogozin said Russian needs to “immediately begin work” on a new station and spacecraft capable of reaching orbit.
However, the Roscosmos chief has not made it clear whether these plans will be part of an international endeavour like the ISS.
Instead, he said “the technical training should begin now” for when the ISS is retired.
The ISS is overseen by a body of 15 countries, including the US, Russia, Canada, Japan and a handful of member states of the European Union and the UK.
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According to RT, Mr Rogozin said: “As a country that has always been a leader in the creation of orbital stations, Russia should immediately begin work on creating a new one.”
The International Space Station has been in continuous use for two decades now, with crews living and working in orbit since the year 2000.
The orbital laboratory, which sits some 250 miles (402km) above Earth, is built from Russian, US, Japanese and European modules.
NASA said: “The large modules and other pieces of the station were delivered on 42 assembly flights, 37 on the US Space Shuttles and five on Russian Proton/Soyuz rockets.”
Russia should immediately begin work on creating a new one
Dmitry Rogozin, Roscosmos
The Roscosmos chief also discussed the construction of a winged orbiter to send crews into orbit.
All ISS crews are currently launched into orbit on single-use Russian Soyuz rockets from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
However, with the launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon on May 27, NASA aims to permanently return crewed spaceflight to US soil.
Mr Rogozin said a new generation of winged spacecraft would serve as a spiritual successor to the Buran shuttle.
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The Buran, designed to compete with NASA’s Space Shuttle programme, was the Soviet Union’s short-lived winged orbiter or spaceplane.
Buran successfully completed one uncrewed spaceflight in 1988 before being destroyed in a collapsed hangar in 2002.
Much like the Space Shuttle, Buran featured a winged orbiter strapped to the large fuel tank and side booster rockets.
However, while the Space Shuttle also featured three rear-mounted main engines, Buran relied on two Energia rockets to do the heavy lifting.
The European Space Agency said: “Carried by the huge, hydrogen-burning Energia rocket, Buran was to have rivalled NASA’s Space Shuttle. But it made only one – unmanned – flight
“The fact that the test launch and recovery went perfectly made the project’s demise even more galling to the thousands of scientists and engineers who had worked on it.”
The ISS is expected to be maintained a least until 2030, after which its fate will be decided by NASA and its partners.
There are some plans to commercialise parts of the spacecraft by developing and attaching a habitable module for the US side of the station by 2024.
Once the decision is made to retire the station, parts of the ISS could be deorbited into the Pacific Ocean.
The ISS is the single biggest objects humans have ever constructed in space.
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