Moscow names trigger for ISS withdrawal
The date of Russia’s withdrawal from the International Space Station (ISS) depends on the technical state of the project and could come at any time after 2024, a high-ranking official of the Russian space agency said on Thursday.
“Regarding the statement about 2024… something may have been lost in translation. The statement on Russia’s leaving after 2024 means that there will be no abrupt moves until 2024. At the same time, 2025 follows 2024, as do 2028 and 2030. The specific decision on the withdrawal would be made based on the technical condition [of the station],” Sergey Krikalev, the executive director for manned space programs at Russian space agency Roscosmos, said at a press conference.
In late July, Yury Borisov, the new head of Roscosmos, said Russia would withdraw from the station after 2024, adding that Moscow intends to fulfill its obligations to its foreign partners as part of the ISS project. Although he noted that the exact timing would depend on a number of things, including “the condition of the ISS itself and its operational performance,” Russia’s decision to leave the station “is no secret at all.”
Borisov, who was appointed as director general of Roscosmos in July, also said that Russia would start putting together its own orbital station by the time it leaves the ISS, adding that the decision had nothing to do with geopolitics, including the Ukraine conflict.
“As for the political aspects – I hate to disappoint you, but they simply are not there and I think they shouldn’t be,” he said, touting the ISS as a project that has enriched science and brought nations closer together.
The former head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, predicted that the ISS, which NASA plans to operate until 2030, would “fall apart” by that time unless “huge amounts of money” are invested in repairs.
Last year, former Soviet cosmonaut and chief designer for Russian spacecraft manufacturer RSC Energia, Vladimir Solovyov, said Russia would start construction on its own space station as early as in 2028. The project will be called ROSS (Russian Orbital Service Station) and will be built on the Science Power Module 1, which was originally designed for the ISS, but is now being repurposed, Solovyov said at the time.
The International Space Station is jointly run by Russia, the US, Europe, Japan, and Canada. Launched in 1998, the station has been constantly inhabited for nearly 22 years. It serves as a platform for conducting experiments in zero gravity and trying out technology for future journeys into deep space, including the Moon and Mars.