The Russian government yesterday approved an order allowing Roscosmos to continue to send its astronauts and spacecraft to ISS through 2027.
“The expected results are as follows: transport and technical support for the Russian segment of the International Space Station in 2023-2027, including the delivery to the station and return to Earth of Russian crews, as well as the delivery to the ISS of fuel and cargo crucial to maintaining the ISS in flight and the implementation of a long-term program for authorized works,” the instruction says.
Putin’s government is essentially admitting that it will not be able to launch its own space station by ’27, so it has to stay on ISS because that’s all it has. Whether ISS can last that long, considering the somewhat delicate state of some of the oldest Russian modules, remains unclear.
The American private stations should all be coming on line in the years from 2024 to 2030, so it appears the U.S. is covered. What Russia will do however remains unknown. I suspect it will be far more difficult politically for it to buy time on the American private stations, compared to Europe. But if it doesn’t get its own station launched, buying time might be its only option, assuming of course the U.S. government allows it to do so. And considering that other Russian officials are threatening America’s private space assets, the likelihood that Russia will be allowed on future American space stations seems remote indeed.
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