Russia to continue on ISS past 2020?

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A Russian news story today suggests that they are leaning strongly to continuing their partnership with the United States on ISS beyond 2020.

“The issue of Russia’s participation at the ISS after 2020 remains open, but there is a 90-percent chance that the state’s leadership will agree to participate in the project further,” [Izvestia] wrote, citing a source at Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.

This report gives a better overview of the debate going on with Russia’s government and space agency. If they abandon ISS the work they have already done on new modules for the station will have to be written off, and it appears assembling their own station from those modules will be too expensive and take too long.

It also looks like NASA offered them a second year long mission if they stuck around.



  • wodun

    Russia likes the ISS because it ties our hands as much as theirs and they are, currently, better at using that to their advantage.

  • geoffc

    The Russian plan post ISS is that the new modules (Nakua, docked to where Pirs is, and due to launch soon, the OM (Docking ball module with 6 ports) will become the core of the Post-ISS station. I.e. When ISS is done, it will be deorbited, but Russia will disconnect Nakua from the Zvezda earth facing docking port, and take all those modules attached to the OM with it and have an instant station.

    But they are way behind on building OM and other modules. Years behind.

  • mpthompson

    I just don’t get it. After spending, what? $100 billion or more building the damn thing, we’re just going to chuck it in the ocean? I really don’t get it.

    Does anyone involved even consider what this will look like to the public? Do they think that the public will want to pony up another $100 billion for a replacement when the scientist, engineers and other flunkies at NASA come with hat in hand asking for another toy after tossing the ISS the ocean? I’m sure some senators will be eager to shovel the pork into their districts, but 90% of the other senators will not.

    I guess I should want to see NASA destroy the ISS as it is probably the quickest way to get the agency out of manned flight. But to destroy the ISS? Sheesh, sell it Bigelow for and let him begin expanding it with a dozen of his modules and turn it into a real operational space station.

  • Pzatchok

    Unless you get rid of the old one they don’t think they will get any money for a new one.
    Its old NASA thinking. And for the most part its true. If we have the old one still operational then congress will just keep funding the old one and never budget for a new one.
    So they will have no need for so many engineers, they could be laid off.
    But if we need a new one because the old one fell apart then congress could be pushed just enough to fund a new one and thus everyone keeps their jobs and maybe even a few new ones could be added.

    Its just like the SLS.
    If we had just dusted off our old designs for the new launch system they would not have needed half the engineers and budget they need now. We would be ahead of the game and would still be lifting passengers.
    Its why ULA wants a whole new budget to replace its Russian engines. They claim they will need to redesign the whole system but everyone knows all they need is to copy the Russian engines. We could even do it legally and lease the design or even buy it.

  • Edward

    Think of the ISS as any other construction. It has a limited life, even with maintenance. Buildings eventually become hard to maintain, ships eventually become too expensive to repair or operate, and even your car doesn’t last as long as the ISS already has. More than just the harsh environment of vacuum and radiation, there are micrometeors and man-made space junk (e.g. paint chips) that are wearing down the exterior of the station, and the mechanisms within and outside of the station will eventually wear out.

    This is a shame of spending so much money building this super station. It seems to me that Congress saw the Soviet Mir space station and said, ‘I want one, too.’ So they started a “keeping up with the Joneses” competition, only to have the “Jones family” fall apart and join in on the project. Plus, in 1984, they thought that it would give the Space Shuttle a destination.

    I don’t know how many more decades it can be economically operated, but I suspect that replacing it with other stations, such as Bigelow space habitats, will eventually become a better value than continual maintenance of wearing parts, just as will happen to your car. The next US space station is likely to be placed into a more easily accessed orbit.

    Another shame about the ISS is that its original lifetime was designed and scheduled to be 15 years, and it took almost that long for construction and inception of normal operations. It has only been the past couple of years that it has been able to host a lot of experiments. Design changes instituted to save 10% on costs reduced the crew size by half and thus the ability to perform experiments by a factor of two to six, making it even less cost efficient than expected. But then again, now we don’t have the shuttle to carry the experiments up and down, so maybe the lost ability to perform them isn’t the loss I think it is.

    The ISS is yet another US space asset that Congress and various presidents have (mis)managed to squander.

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