It seems the ghosts of the Cold War are back to haunt us when it comes to the space race between the United States and Russia. On Wednesday, Interfax news agency quoted Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin as saying that by 2030, Russia will be able to launch its own space station in orbit if President Vladimir Putin gives the go-ahead. Here is all you need to know about this recent development:
Why the Separation?
Matters of political disagreements have resulted in separation among the American and Russian space agencies as well. The two countries have displayed exemplary professional coordination at the International Space Station for two decades. However, Russia and the US relations are under strain over issues concerning human rights, after Putin’s administration imprisoned the opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Navalny, who is in a Russian jail, is on a hunger strike for 20 days now and according to his doctors, he may not have much time left. The US has urged the Russian government to not stifle dissenting voices and will face consequences if Navalny dies. It has also accused Russia of launching cyberattacks against them and interfering in their elections.Another reason why the separation may be happening is the ageing of the ISS and the aim with which it was first launched. According to a report by Science Mag, cosmonauts had to patch up the cracks in a Russian module that were thought to be the source of minor air leaks. Considering these circumstances, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told Russian TV last weekend that Moscow would give notice to its international partners that it would leave the ISS project from 2025.
What happens after Russia leaves?Russian Deputy PM said in his address that the country needs a national space station in order to do well. However, Borisov did mention that they will consider allowing foreign crews to visit for their projects. According to Reuters, Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying that Russia is planning to spend up to $6 billion for the ambitious project. Head of Russian space agency has said that, unlike ISS, the Russian station would most likely not be permanently crewed because its orbit path would expose it to higher radiation, reported Reuters.
Future of ISS?The Science Magazine reports, Vitaly Egorov, an industry observer, writer, and former spokesperson for Dauria Aerospace, a Russian company saying that if the separation happens, ISS partners would have a tough time keeping the station functional without Russia. However, Roscosmos head has assured that Russia would not leave the ISS until the proposed new station becomes functional mentioning how pauses are fatal for spaceflight.