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In a somewhat unexpected development today, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin revealed today that Russia intends to spend $8.2 billion (321 billion rubles) on research and development at the International Space Station through 2025.
“The 2016-2025 draft of the target federal program provides for allocating 321 billion rubles for the ISS development and operation, including the creation of new modules for unmanned spacecraft,” Rogozin said during a visit to a cosmonaut training center. “Russia channels considerable funds into development of this area of Russian space science. We are now thinking of research projects designed to explore outer space, as well as new projects in manned cosmonautics,” Rogozin said.
Up until now the Russians have been unclear about what they intend to do at ISS. NASA had asked them to extend the partnership to 2024. Their initial response was almost hostile, with Rogozin even threatening to stop flying American astronauts to ISS on Russian Soyuz rockets/capsules. Now it appears that they have decided to up their participation with new modules and agree to the extension.
Moreover, Rogozin’s statement suggests they are going to take a more independent position when it comes to human research in space. Up until now, they have allowed NASA a veto on flying any long manned missions on ISS, which is why no yearlong expeditions prior to next year’s have taken place. NASA kept saying no. This report suggests that once we have our own methods for getting astronauts to ISS they are going to go their own way and begin flying their own long term missions to ISS. We will fly our astronauts there on our schedule, and they will fly their astronauts there on their schedule.
Should make for some interesting news stories, eh? Will Russian and American astronauts even be allowed in each other’s modules? I am reminded of stories of messy divorces where the couples still had to live in the same house.