Russia will withdraw from the ISS by 2025
The head of Roscosmos, Russia’s public space agency, announced on Tuesday (July 26th) that Russia intends to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) after its current commitment expires at the end of 2024.
Yuri Borisov, who was named head of Roscosmos several weeks ago, made the announcement during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said. “I think at that time we will start setting up a Russian orbital station,” he added, referring to a plan to build an exclusively Russian space station called the Russian Orbital Service Station. , first offered in 2021.
This is not the first time that Roscosmos has signaled its intention to withdraw from the ISS after 2024; Borisov’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, makes similar statements in June 2021 (and still in April and May 2022), citing US economic sanctions against Russia as the main reason. Western sanctions against Russia increased following the invasion of ukraine in February.
NASA says it received no official notification of Russia’s withdrawal, according to The New York Times. Although Russia’s current engagement ends in late 2024, NASA hopes to extend ISS operations until 2030.
The first module of the ISS was launched in 1998 and astronauts have been living there since November 2000. The station is a joint effort between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan.
Russia’s withdrawal could significantly complicate future space station operations, says science historian Jordan Bimm USA today (opens in a new tab).
“In practice, it could be a nightmare depending on how hard Russia wanted to do it for NASA and its remaining partners,” Bimm said.
The ISS consists of two interconnected sections: one managed by NASA and the other by Russia. An array of solar panels on the NASA section generate much of the station’s power. The Russian section, meanwhile, provides propulsion to periodically push the ISS into a higher orbit and prevent it from falling to Earth. If Russia withdraws, the remaining partner countries will have to implement other means of propulsion to keep the ISS in orbit safely.
“The withdrawal will take time,” Pavel Luzin, a Russian military and space analyst, told The New York Times. “Most likely, we have to interpret this as Russia’s refusal to extend the operation of the station until 2030.”
Earlier this year, NASA announced a new plan to dismantling of the aging space station in January 2031, allowing the ISS to drop into a remote corner of the Pacific Ocean known as Point Nemo. NASA has signed agreements with three private companies to launch several new commercial space stations by the end of the 2020s.
Originally posted on Live Science.