Russia to up ISS crew back to three

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In order to integrate the new Nauka module, expected to launch in 2019, the Russians plan to increase their crew size on ISS back to three in late 2018.

[L]ong before the Nauka’s arrival, the Russian crew members aboard the ISS will have their hands full with various chores preceding the docking of the 20-ton spacecraft, which will increase the size and mass of the Russian Segment by almost a third. Moreover, once the module is in place, Russian cosmonauts are expected to labor into the 2020 to fully plug all the systems of the new room into their home in orbit. The total time required to integrate Nauka is expected to reach 2,000 work hours, including 11 spacewalks!

The preparations for the addition of the long-awaited module were scheduled to begin less than a year from now on Sept. 8, 2018, with the launch of the three members of Expedition 57 crew aboard the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft. The launch will mark the first time since October 2016 that a Soyuz will lift more than one Russian cosmonaut.

Nauka is more than a decade behind schedule, which puts it in the same league as SLS and Orion. But then, Nauka, like SLS and Orion, is a government-built project, so no one should be surprised that it has taken so long. The goal isn’t the exploration of space. The goal is to create jobs, even if they don’t accomplish anything for decades.



  • mkent

    “Nauka is more than a decade behind schedule, which puts it in the same league as SLS and Orion…”

    Orion is getting close to that but not SLS. When the contract was signed with Boeing, SLS had a target launch date of 2017, so it’s currently running about two years behind schedule.

    SLS’s problem isn’t that it won’t work (it probably will) or that it is unbearably late (it’ll be only somewhat late). SLS’s problem is that it costs an order of magnitude more than its capability would cost using existing commercial launches.

  • mike shupp

    Nah, I think the Russkies have the same problem we have. There’s a bunch of people, maybe 30 % of the population . who vaguely support the notion of expanding into space because that’s Russian Greatness, something akin to what Russians have done since exploding into Siberia in the 18th century. Then there’s a batch of people, maybe another 30 %, who adamantly oppose large space programs because “We haven’t built a Socialist Utopia yet here on earth” and also “nobody talked about space colonies when I was a child”. And an overweening mass of people who say “Space exploration would be nice, I grew up reading about that stuff, but it’s not something I do to make a living, and I don’t want to pay more taxes to make it happen.”

    And y’know? I think you can find that sort of split in the United States, in the United Kingdom, across the European Union, in China, in South Africa, in Thailand, and 300 other nations. People sort of like the idea of space exploration, but it’s on the order of people preferring to look at blue rather than indigo backgrounds in paintings — this doesn’t lead to revolutions.

    So what does? Economic growth is a biggie. Come the end of the century, GNP in the USA will have risen by maybe 1.5 % a year, and each of us will be 4 times as wealthy as we are today. Government programs to plant colonies on the Moon and Mars won’t loom as much as they might today. And in China, 6% growth for another 80 years leads to an economy 128 times as large. I think the Chinese will find space exploration affordable.

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