A Russian space station spun off from ISS?

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The competition heats up: Energia, Russia’s main contractor for building its part of ISS, has proposed a plan to separate the Russian modules from ISS, once they are finally launched, to create a new and solely Russian space station.

According to RKK Energia, the prime Russian contractor on the ISS, the new outpost would begin with the separation of the Nauka [Russia’s ISS science module, long delayed] from the rest of the old station in mid-2020s. By that time, Nauka should have two even newer modules in tow. One would be the so-called Node Module, a tinker-toy-like component that could connect to six other modules, crew ships, cargo tankers, structural elements, you name it. The Node Module is already in RKK Energia’s garage and ready to go within a few months after the Nauka.

Next would be the new Science and Power Module (NEM) which, as it name implies, will finally give cosmonauts a state-of-the-art science lab and a pair of large solar arrays, making the Russian segment fully independent from the rest of the ISS in terms of power, communications, and other resources. The launch of NEM, currently promised as early as 2019, would set the stage for these three components to leave the ISS to form ROS.

Russia has always given itself the option to do this, designing its part of the station in a way that would allow it to stand alone.


  • wodun

    NASA could just sell Russia the rest of the ISS instead of sending it into the sea in a fiery death.

  • Gealon

    Last time I checked, we owned the Zaria module. The US paid for it’s construction and launch. It being the first module of the station it has fuel storage, thrusters and a guidance system and if memory serves, was in orbit without support for much longer then expected while the Russians delayed Zvesda’s (the core module) launch. If they want to separate the station, I think it reasonable that we keep Zaria and use it’s control capability until NASA can dig the Interim Control Module out of storage. An ESA ATV loaded with fuel could also serve, if they have any left, since they use the same type of docking port.

    Just throwing some options out there, things we could do if we really were interested in preserving this enormously expensive asset.

  • Edward

    You are correct, the Zaria module is owned by the US. The article does not mention the Zvezda module, which I recall is owned by Russia.

    It looks like the current Russian plan is to use, for their new station, ROS, two new modules and a node that are currently scheduled to be attached to the ISS prior to the end of the cooperative agreement for keeping it going until at least 2024.

    Because the Russian space program is having financial problems into the foreseeable future, they may desire to keep their modules attached to the ISS as long as possible until the ISS is decommissioned or until the Russians get a better financial situation.

    Either way, I expect that ROS will be in a similar orbit as the ISS, because changing orbits is fuel intensive (read: “expensive”).

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