The Mir space station hangs above the Earth in 1995 (photo by Atlantis STS-71, NASA)

Russia Wants to Build New Space Station, Extend Life of ISS to 2020

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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The Russian space agency (Roscosmos) has announced that it will lobby Moscow with a proposal that would see the construction of a new Russian space station in low-Earth orbit. Also, the agency has expressed a desire to extend the operational lifespan of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2020 (the outpost is set for retirement in 2015). Building a Russian space station will aid Russia’s desire to kick-start their lunar program, possibly acting as a staging post for future missions to Mars…

The ISS has been a hot topic over the last few months, but not always for the right reasons. Its construction is behind schedule by at least five years, primarily due to the Columbia disaster in early 2003 plus some funding problems in the Russian space agency. However, despite its problems, the ISS was 76% complete as of July 2008 and it is set for completion in 2010. This may be the case, but the station is scheduled to be retired in 2015, meaning science on the completed ISS only has a period of five years before it is de-orbited and sent the same way as Mir in 2001 (i.e. down).

Could the ISS be modified to travel to Mar<span>s</span>? Credit: NASA/Ian O'Neill
The thought of disposing of the ISS so soon has led to some speculative “alternative uses” for the ISS; one of the most outlandish being the conversion of the ISS into some kind of International Space Ship, retrofitting the station with rockets and sending it to the Moon and/or Mars to act as a manned mothership for planetary activities. Although this excites my science fiction imagination, this possibility seems unlikely (it would be cool though…).

It seems that Roscosmos has made their feelings clear about the whole situation, making an announcement on Thursday wanting to drum up support for an ISS extension to 2020 and start the construction of a Russian replacement space station, forming the back bone of Roscosmos’ ambitions to set up a base on the Moon and then make a manned expedition to the Red Planet.

We will soon propose to our government a project to construct a low-orbit complex, which could serve as a foundation for the implementation of the lunar program and later on – the Mars program,” Alexei Krasnov, director of manned flight programs at Roscosmos, said in a news conference in Moscow on January 29th. “These are our intentions, but we are working hard to ensure that these plans get adequate financial and legislative support from the government.”

The Russian space agency has often been criticised for having ambitions exceeding their budgets, but this is an interesting proposition. The biggest obstacle (apart from the funding bit) would be to convince the other ISS member states to continue funding the mission. “We are considering the extension of ISS service life at least until 2020, but this decision must be adopted by the governments of all 15 countries participating in the project,” Krasnov said.

The idea of having a Russian space station is not very hard to imagine, after all, Roscosmos has the experience of designing, constructing and living on the Mir space station (with the assistance of the Shuttle-Mir Program intended to forge a collaboration between the US and Russia in the run-up to “Phase 2” of the space relationship: constructing the ISS), and they have a very robust existing launch system. All this will be a valuable infrastructure toward supporting the construction of a new manned outpost.

Although this announcement sounds very exciting for Russia, the space agency is beset with financial woes of its own; the idea of embarking on an expensive space station project probably wont be entertained for very long…

Source: RIA Novosti


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bigstevie
Member
bigstevie
January 31, 2009 11:22 PM

I’m thinking…. space hotel?!? Surely the ISS could be sold rather than burned up once the US decides to cut off funding in a fit of short-sighted isolationism.

But wait, we have a new administration now, and a new NASA chief soon. So, who knows? Maybe we won’t bow out and leave all future innovation to China, India, Russia, Japan, and private entities after all…

Gregorio
Guest
Gregorio
February 1, 2009 1:16 AM

What exactly makes the ISS “obsolete” by 2015? Is it “wear and tear”, technology, too much radiation? Because I’ve always thought if you buy top of the line you should be able to repair your way to longer use, and I think the Russians are right on this. Furthermore, they might have the booster technology to actually move that gargantuan beast out of Earth’s gravitational well. If so, what about putting it at L-5 and using it as a waystation for the manufacture of Solar Power Stations, an old but venerable idea who’s time may have come???

Alex
Guest
Alex
February 1, 2009 1:36 AM

Dump the ISS in just a few more years? When it’s not even complete yet? How outlandish!

If it is truly retired just a few years after is is finally complete, then I feel that the US taxpayer did NOT get their moneys worth out of this project! Not to be believed!

mars_stu
Member
February 1, 2009 4:07 AM
I am an unfashionably huge fan of the ISS, and have spoken up in its defence too many times to count when the terms “orbiting white elephant” and “financial black hole” have been used, but if it is de-orbited in 2015 even I would throw my hands up in despair and admit it was a waste of money and we’d have been better off spending the money on something else instead. It would be an almost criminally stupid thing to do, wasting all that technology and hardware and ROOM! There are so many possible uses for ISS, but I guess they all will depend on non-NASA access to LEO coming sooner rather than later. But come on, burn… Read more »
simon
Member
simon
February 1, 2009 5:22 AM

Where does does the 2015 date come from anyway? If sending it all the way to Mars is not feasible can’t we park it a higher orbit in order to extend its life. What about adding more and more solar panel arrays and have it provide beamed power propulsion.

The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
Member
The Eclectic Exterminator of Stupid Electricians
February 1, 2009 5:29 AM
Stu’s right. Just a reflection of the continuance of the American ideal of the consumer disposable society. IMO it is a reflection of the unwillingness to work together for the good of the planet and continue obsessing about their own country’s perceived superiority or importance. Based on past historical event when economic times were not that good, comes the call for isolationism and reflection. America did so in the American Civil War, prior to WWI, the Great Depression, and prior to WWII. Clearly at the moment the usual narrow single-minded vision of America does not go beyond its four- election cycle. The ISS is very inconvenient at the moment, and like Obama says; ” those of us who… Read more »
r0ach
Member
February 1, 2009 6:08 AM

Russia is said to be planning to build a PRODUCTION LINE on orbit. Maybe thats they’re aim.

This is probably good news for India since Russians have always helped the Indian Space program without any strings attached.

The next Chandrayaan-2 is an Indo-Russian rover mission.

Sci-Fi Si
Guest
February 1, 2009 6:20 AM
Well it’s so nice to know that the Shuttle program is coming to an end soon and the USA will have no access to space on its own. The ISS? Well it only cost $100 billion, so just burn it up… Isn’t it nice to know that in the past 40 years the space program have not put a human on any other planet in our solar system, they’ve not even landed back on the moon and we did that with a pocket calculator and a pencil. What happend to the old days when there were men with the vision and the balls to inspire inspire everyone on Earth and give us a new hope? After four decades… Read more »
BHR
Guest
BHR
February 1, 2009 6:51 AM

In my opinion, the use of space station is in the future, will permit the exploration off the Europa, Titan, Enceladus, etc. Teams of scients can stay in orbit to use telepresen (Because you can’t trust on A.I. to conduce a submarine in Europe, for exemple, with milions of thinks who can be wrong). To make this work, in this beging of century, we most develop artificial gravit (like Arthur Clark imagination), and protection for radiation.
So ISS is very important, and can’t be waste. Sorry my terrible english

Conic
Guest
February 1, 2009 7:42 AM

When are people going to learn that space stations and the moon have very little to do with trips to mars. At best, they are just practice.

There is no reason for a mars ship to visit the ISS on the way to mars, and certainly no reason to stop at the moon first.

BHR you are a bit insane.

Brammer
Guest
Brammer
February 1, 2009 8:27 AM

Despite the bizarre 2015 retirement date and Obama’s “sacrfices” I don’t think the ISS will be abandoned.

Keep in mind, the “space race” still exists, albeit at a much slower pace. There is no way the US would “sacrfice” a military advantage (or the possibility of losing it) to another country.

Hans-Peter Dollhopf
Member
Hans-Peter Dollhopf
February 1, 2009 8:55 AM

Dear Conic, no matter what’s going on with BHR, but I don’t like it that as soon as the governmental tax bureaucracy has managed to transfer the money of the people to the eggheads, these dudes believe that this plentifulness is their own. Those deciders are given the money of the people but in return don’t feel the least inkling of being only servants themselves.

Frank Glover
Guest
Frank Glover
February 1, 2009 9:08 AM
“When are people going to learn that space stations and the moon have very little to do with trips to mars. At best, they are just practice.” When will those with ‘Mars Fever’ realize that space stations are worthy activities *in their own right?* When will they realize that the Moon is a worthy goal ‘in its own right?* Were not ‘finished’ with LEO, there’s still much that cries out to be done there by humans, we’re not *finished* with the Moon, just because of six landings there, decades ago. And we won’t be ‘finished’ with Mars after the first few landings there, and some people will surely be insisting we stop that and go on to the… Read more »
Hans-Peter Dollhopf
Member
Hans-Peter Dollhopf
February 1, 2009 9:16 AM

BHR Says:
February 1st, 2009 at 6:51 am
“In my opinion … in this beging of century, we most develop artificial gravit (like Arthur Clark imagination), and protection for radiation.
So ISS is very important, and can’t be waste. Sorry my terrible english”

Of course, a spacestation design using rotation for the generation of gravity, that would be a real novelity in spaceflight. But never any space agency has attempted to realize this concept.

Also, at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford and the universities of York and Strathclyde they have tested a “mini-magnetosphere” as powerful deflector shield for space vehicles against high energy solar particles. They hope to have a working full size prototype within five years.

Hans-Peter Dollhopf
Member
Hans-Peter Dollhopf
February 1, 2009 9:25 AM

Frank Glover’s conception of “creating a decent spacefaring infrastructure that can sustainably support the MANY things we want to do” might be a keystone to success.

Dee
Guest
Dee
February 1, 2009 9:42 AM

Right on Stu and also Sci Fi Si – ISS has taken so long to build and cost so much it surely makes sense to keep it in use for as long as possible – not take it out 5, or even 10 years after completion! One problem – Nasa and/or the Russians HAVE to work out a more efficient way of getting there! For now I shall continue to enjoy watching her passing overhead – weather permitting of course! smile

Silver Thread
Member
Silver Thread
February 1, 2009 10:18 AM
STU and Frank Glover are both Dead on the Money. The idea of just letting potentially useful equipment burn up in the atmosphere still bothers me, especially in the context of a space craft capable of housing humans. The prospective value of a Space Station in my mind is this, *if* we get to the point where we can actually build interplanetary ships in space, we can park them at the station and not have to design every space craft to reenter an atmosphere or actually land on any thing. A much smaller ship could be used to ferry crew to the station from which they might board a larger vessel designed without the constraints placed on a… Read more »
Al
Member
Al
February 1, 2009 10:52 AM

All I know is that the first footprints made on Mars won’t be made by an American, neither will the next steps on the Moon. Not that I care, but it is a shame that its starting to look like the U.S. government really only cares about space exploration when it is a competition. 40 years after landing on the moon and thats as far as we’ve gotten? We should have been on Mars long ago, or at least some kind of permanent lunar base.

mars_stu
Member
February 1, 2009 11:23 AM
President Obama will be selecting a new Administrator soon. God help the man, or woman, for they will inherit an organisation bogged down in a swamp of bureaucracy, swaddled in enough red tape to wrap up an aircraft carrier and held back by politicians with no vision, passion or sense of the grand. NASA seems like an agency without a heart and without a soul, without a true, definite purpose in life that will get The People behind it like Apollo did all those years ago. It might have been given the goal of returning to the Moon, and I have absolutely no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the amazing people who work for NASA will work… Read more »
Hans-Peter Dollhopf
Member
Hans-Peter Dollhopf
February 1, 2009 1:48 PM
Silver Thread so it does not look like STU and Frank Glover are both Dead on the Money. Mr. Glover claims that “were not ‘finished’ with LEO, there’s still much that cries out to be done there by humans, we’re not *finished* with the Moon, just because of six landings there, decades ago. And we won’t be ‘finished’ with Mars after the first few landings there“, while “STU” confesses that “the Return to The Moon leaves me absolutely 1000% unmoved and uninspired.” I am more convinced by Frank Glover’s view which is that the values of goals in space should be regarded independently from each other so that the core issue is to establish a much more exploitable… Read more »
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