Russia explains why it wants to extend ISS participation
Moscow is likely to agree to extend the International Space Station (ISS) agreement until 2028, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov said on Sunday. In the meantime, according to the official, Russia intends to focus on launching its own space facility.
Speaking to reporters at Vostochny spaceport in Russia’s Far East, Manturov, who also holds the post of trade minister, signaled that Moscow believes “it is possible to extend the ISS operations while the Russian orbital station is being deployed in the minimal configuration.” He said this meant the current agreement could be extended until 2028.
The extension would be negotiated with the national space agencies and governments that participate in the international project. In total, 14 countries are involved in the ISS, including Russia, the US, Japan, Canada, and a number of European nations.
The operations of the space station are regulated by the 1998 ISS Intergovernmental Agreement, which provides for the use of the facility until the end of 2024. However, Manturov noted that NASA had shifted its official retirement date to 2030 and had asked its partners, including Russian space agency Roscosmos, to continue cooperation until then.
In late July, Roscosmos chief Yury Borisov said Russia would withdraw from the ISS after 2024, adding that Moscow intended to fulfill its obligations to its foreign partners. He noted at the time that the decision had nothing to do with geopolitics, including the Ukraine conflict.
Later, Sergey Krikalev, the executive director for manned space programs at Roscosmos, clarified that the timing of withdrawal depended on the technical state of the ISS, and could come at any time after 2024.
While making plans to withdraw from the ISS, Russia also intends to assemble its own space facility dubbed the Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS). According to Vladimir Solovyov, a former Soviet cosmonaut and chief designer for spacecraft manufacturer RSC Energia, the construction of a new facility will not start before 2028, while its first module could be launched between 2027 and 2028. The project 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.