Sat. Dec 5th, 2020

Russia to build its own space station after ISS shuts down

5 min read

Going it alone: Russia plans to build its own space station when the ISS reaches the end of its life in a bid to reach the Moon and Mars

  • Russia plans to construct its own orbiting space station after the ISS ends its life
  • It will use the station to build and fuel spacecraft heading for the Moon and Mars 
  • Roscosmos also plans to build a winged reusable spacecraft to build the station 

Russia aims to build its own orbiting space base when the International Space Station (ISS) is no longer serviceable – to launch missions to the Moon and Mars.  

The ISS has been under constant occupation by astronauts since November 2000 but due to structural fatigue needs to be decommissioned by 2030. 

After this Roscosmos plans to take the modules it built for the ISS and use them as the base parts of its new orbiting space station – which will take a decade to build. 

The Russian agency says the aim would be to use the new space station as a place to assemble and refuel spacecraft before launching them further into the solar system. 

The ISS has been under constant occupation by astronauts since November 2000 but due to structural fatigue needs to be decommissioned by 2030

Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, said the platform was ‘for exploring far-out space’ and would include flights to Mars, the Moon and asteroids.  

‘We’re going to put together spacecraft in orbit for flights to Mars, the moon, and to asteroids, because it’s very difficult and challenging to bring such an entire construction up from Earth,’ Rogozin said. 

He saw Russia was open to the idea of working with other countries on their new space station – which would double as a refuelling station and assembly point.

Russia plans to send a crewed mission to the Moon by 2028 – four years after the US Artemis mission will put the first woman and next man on the lunar surface.

Moscow also hopes to send cosmonauts to Mars using its Angara heavy lift rockets – currently under development – but hasn’t set a date.

The announcement of the new Russian space station comes as NASA moves a step closer to ending its reliance on Roscosmos rockets to send astronauts to the ISS. 

Since NASA ended the Space Shuttle programme in 2011 Russia has been the only country able to take astronauts to and from the ISS – using its Soyuz rockets.

After the ISS ends its life Roscosmos plans to take the modules it built for the station and use them as the base parts of its new orbiting space station – which will take a decade to build

NASA has paid Roscosmos to take its astronauts to the space station since 2011 but the long-standing relationship is expected to end soon thanks to SpaceX.

Elon Musk’s space firm is expected to launch two NASA astronauts from US soil for the first time since 2011 this weekend on top of its Falcon 9 rocket. 

This move may be part of the reason behind Russia’s drive to expand its space programme further into the solar system. 

Rogozin says the country should start work preparing for its own space station as soon as possible due to the fact it will take a decade to build. 

‘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,’ he told Radio Komsomolskaya Pravda in an interview on the countries space plans.

The country hasn’t said whether the space station would be occupied like the ISS or fully automated to assemble and refuel spacecraft.

Rogozin also said Roscosmos is ‘considering the possibility of creating a winged manned spacecraft for flights to orbital stations,’ to help build the new station.

The ISS – an international orbital laboratory involving the US, European Space Agency, Roscosmos, Jaxa and others – required 42 assembly flights.

Of the assembly flights 37 were on the US Space Shuttle and five were on the Russian Proton/Soyuz rockets. 

In a wide ranging interview, Rogozin took aim at White House plans to introduce Artemis accords – the regulate mining on the Moon.

NASA has paid Roscosmos to take its astronauts to the space station since 2011 but the long-standing relationship is expected to end soon thanks to SpaceX

He said Russia ‘will not allow the privatisation of the Moon by anyone’ and said he would not participate in the lunar race.

The Artemis accords would only apply to nations that sign up to adhere to them.

They would protect mining rights of companies, protect heritage sites on the Moon and require signatories to help other nations astronauts if they are in distress.

In the same interview Rogozin also took aim at Elon Musk and SpaceX.

He said Musk’s idea of sending nuclear weapons to Mars to warm the atmosphere and make it more suitable for human life was a cover for the US to deploy nuclear weapons in space.

Rogozin raged at Musk’s ‘abhorrent’ idea and called it a front for military ambitions.

In the same interview Rogozin also took aim at Elon Musk and SpaceX. He said Musk’s idea of sending nuclear weapons to Mars to warm the atmosphere and make it more suitable for human life was a cover for the US to deploy nuclear weapons in space

‘We understand that one thing stands behind all this demagogy: this is a cover for deployment of nuclear weapons in space,’ he said. 

Rogozin is not the first Russian official to take issue with Musk’s idea, after his fellow Roscomos official Alexander Bloshenko said earlier this month that it would take more than 10,000 nuclear warheads to carry out the plan. 

Russia isn’t the only space agency looking to expand its presence in orbit – the Chinese space agency plans to begin construction of a small station next year.

The Chinese large modular space station is a planned crewed station for low earth orbit – it will be about a fifth the mass of the ISS.

NASA is also planning a new space station – but this time in orbit around the Moon – called the Lunar Gateway, it will help astronauts explore the Moon. 

No specific details have been announced by the US or ESA for plans for a replacement for the ISS.

EXPLAINED: THE $100 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION SITS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH

The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.

It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000. 

Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.

ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.

The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.

A U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees Nasa has begun looking at whether to extend the program beyond 2024.

Alternatively the money could be used to speed up planned human space initiatives to the moon and Mars.

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