A service orbital station may be deployed by Russia after 2024 as the modules of the current International Space Station (ISS) on the Russian side may begin to fail after 2025. The planned new Russian Orbital Service Station (ROSS) may comprise of three to seven modules and could be operated by a crew of two to four people. The station will also be able to operate autonomously as per Vladimir Solovyov, RSC Energia First Deputy Designer General for Flight Operation, Testing of Rocket and Space Complexes and Systems, Flight Director of the Russian Segment of the ISS. “The cosmonauts will work on the station in shifts, in order to reduce the crew’s radiation exposure and operation costs,” he said.
The planned ROSS is designed for remote probing, research, experiments, communications, navigation, man-made disaster detection, geological survey, participation in educational projects, forestry monitoring and space tourism. The new station will somewhat resemble the Mir Space Station, decommissioned in 2001.
The move comes after Vladimir Solovyov said that there are multiple seriously damaged modules on the station that will begin to fail after 2025 and further funding of the space station may cost $132 million to $198 million. On November 19, the Russian Cosmonauts placed a new patch over the crack in the intermediate chamber of the module Zvezda. The Russians attributed the air leak to ‘natural wear and tear after 20 years of operation’. The crack was no more than 4 cm wide and posed no threat to the space station’s safety, said the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos. The air leak spot looked more like a curvilinear scratch 2-3 cm long. As per Russian news agency Tass, the air leak would be fully eliminated after the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft’s landing.
Vladimir Solovyov also refuted the speculation that the ISS will cease operations after 2025. “The ( November 25) report at the Russian Academy of Sciences Council on Space is of informational nature and is not an offer for future ISS development, meaning the interpretation of the report points in some media is incorrect. A decision on the future of the station can be made only at the government level after a detailed study of decisions that will be proposed to Roscosmos by the rocket and space industry the enterprises responsible for the operation of the station, primarily RSC Energia, as well as after discussions with ISS program partners,” said Vladimir Solovyov. As per TASS, the consultations on the ISS lifespan with international partners will begin in early 2021. “One way or another, we plan to commence consultations with NASA and other partners on these issues,” said a Roscosmos official.
Meanwhile, the latest Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket by RSC Progress (formerly TsSKB-Progress) with the Fregat upper stage is all set to launch. Russia is also working on Vostochny Cosmodrome, above the 51st parallel north in the Amur Oblast in the Russian Far East, to replace the dependence on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The key participants of the Russian Space industries include NPO Lavochkin, NPO Avtomatiki, Russian Space Systems, JSC Kuznetsov, NPO Energomash and Chemical Automatics Design Bureau.