Russia to only use ISS until 2020: official

This April 20, 2014 image from NASA TV shows the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft berthed to the Earth-facing port of the International
This April 20, 2014 image from NASA TV shows the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft berthed to the Earth-facing port of the International Space Station's Harmony node

A senior Russian official said Tuesday that Russia will only need the International Space Station (ISS) until 2020, as previous plans by Washington to use it until 2024 were thrown into doubt amid the Ukraine crisis.

"We are planning to only need the ISS until 2020," deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said, Interfax reported. "After 2020 we would like to use those resources on other promising space projects."

In January, NASA said the US administration is extending the life of the $100 billion station from 2020 to 2024.

Russia's Roscosmos federal space agency, which has been responsible for all manned spaceflight to the station after the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, was to sign an agreement with the US extending its lifespan by four years.

Rogozin's remarks seemed to throw such prospects into doubt however, as he added that Russia has "some new strategic ideas" for the that will require funds currently spent on resource-heavy manned spaceflight.

At the end of its operation the ISS, which was launched in 1998, will be put in a controlled de-orbit and plunged into the ocean.

In a series of remarks seemingly directed against the United States, Rogozin, who has been blacklisted by the West over his involvement in the Ukraine crisis, said that Russia will also "stop the work of (GPS) stations on Russian territory."

Russia has been lobbying for the right to put its own monitor stations on US territory to improve the work of its satellite positioning system Glonass. However the initiative met opposition in the United States and was delayed.

Rogozin said there were 11 "infrastructure stations" for the US-run Global Positioning System in 10 Russian regions and that their operation will be "put on hold" starting June 1, giving Washington three months to agree to "proportionate cooperation" with Russia, he said.

It was not immediately clear what he was referring to, as no GPS base stations are known to be located in Russia.

Rogozin later said on Twitter that the move "won't affect the signal quality that Russian users are getting" for consumer products like navigation systems.

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© 2014 AFP

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User comments

May 13, 2014
What a waste to de-orbit those modules and solar panels. Are they simply irrepairable? Because it seems to me that we spent all this fuel getting that thing up there, we might as well reuse it for something.

May 14, 2014
if they are going to kill it, i think they should figure out if it would be possible to build additional support structures around it and then truck it to the moon and land it there.

May 14, 2014
I agree, Eric. Even if the things can't hold air they could be used as unpressurized storage space. I assume they'll stay airtight, though. And at some point in our planet's future we're going to definitely want a habitable shelter somewhere in earth Orbit. Maybe split the modules up, boost them into different orbits using Spacex boosters, and set them up as emergency shelters? Idk, the possibilites are endless.

May 14, 2014
Russia is planning to use parts of it.

"The Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex is a proposed third-generation modular space station in Low Earth orbit. OPSEK would initially consist of modules from the Russian Orbital Segment of the International Space Station (ISS).

"The proposal would use OPSEK to assemble components of manned interplanetary spacecraft destined for Mars, the Moon, and possibly Saturn. The returning crew would also recover on the station before landing on Earth. This Russian space station could form part of a deep-space network, supporting manned exploration of the Solar system."

-As the primary purpose of the ISS is to learn how to assemble and operate structures in space, it will be interesting to see how detaching segments for use elsewhere is accomplished.

BTW the west will have options for crew supply and transport soon as other countries and private interests become involved. It is also good to have more than one station in case of accident.

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