Russia’s space station faces funding problems

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The Russian space station replacement for ISS, dubbed the Russian Orbital Station (ROS), faces serious budget problems that might delay its launch.

Plans for the post-ISS Russian Orbital Station, ROS, are in limbo, as the nation’s space program has faced budget cuts in 2016. Although the industry has now completed formulating the overall design of the future station, the cash-strapped Roskosmos was yet to approve the formal technical assignment for the development of ROS as of June 2016. The addendum to the Federal Contract, which would fund further development work on the project, has not been issued either.

The ROS project stalled despite being formally approved by three strategy documents governing the current Russian space program: The 10-year Federal Space Program from 2016 to 2025, known as FKP-2025; The Strategy for Russian Piloted Space Flight until 2035 and the Concept of the Russian Piloted Space Flight.

The article also provides a nice overview of how Russia hopes to assembly ROS, partly from new modules and partly from modules they will detach from ISS. The article also made this key point:

According to the current ROS concept, the new Russian station will have a truly unlimited life span, thanks to the possibility to replace any of its modules. (It is practically impossible with the current ISS architecture.) The new Russian station is also designed to operate either as a permanently inhabited outpost or as a periodically visited facility. Russian strategists also hope that the new station will inherit the international nature of the ISS project.

I think Russia is beginning to see the operation of Earth orbital space stations as a profitable niche they can occupy. They know how to do it and already have the technology on hand, and can do it at very affordable prices. Whether they can afford it themselves, however, remains an open question.


  • Dick Eagleson

    This, as well as the news that prompted your post about a possible reduction in the Russian cosmonaut complement on ISS, are both indications that things are a good bit more pinched in Russia than many thought they would be even a year ago. The post-Crimea sanctions contribute, no doubt, but the real problem is the fall – and subsequent failure to rise enough again – in the world prices of oil and gas. Fracking in the U.S. was largely responsible for the drop and continues to keep prices low. I see no reason to expect this to change much over even the long term. American frackers can make decent money at a $40 to $50 a barrel crude price. Continual improvements in the technology make future minimum profitable price points even lower. The Russians seem to have a much harder time making ends meet at current rates. If the frackers can take even another five or so dollars a barrel off their average cost-of-production, Russia could begin to slip beneath the waves, financially.

  • Localfluff

    Never any good space news from Russia. Just crazy talk that goes nowhere. Their leadership in rocket engines is in jeopardy now that private US companies are getting serious. Human space flight is their other big strength, but with fewer cosmonauts on the ISS (to allow for tourists) and maybe no space station after ISS, that leadership might become history too.

    Maybe they can use Vostochny as a Disney Land entertainment park to get some extra cash on the side? “Uglegorsk” is pretty much in the middle of nowhere (to “create jobs” there, as if the bears who live feel unemployed), but if they open a casino they’d get a million Chinese tourists a year.

    Why didn’t they build it at the coast to make some sense out of it? It’s not far away. They say they can’t launch any crewed rockets because they’d crash in the forest, probably ending up upside down, if they have to abort the launch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *