Russia Will Officially Pull out of the ISS and Take Their Parts With Them
Well that escalated quickly.
They’ve threatened it before, but the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has officially announced that they’ll pull out of the International Space Station in 2024—and they’ll be taking their sections of the station with them.
International relations on the ISS have been… tense for some time following earthbound conflicts between the U.S. and Russia. Most recently, Roscosmos began talking about building their own space station, and now it looks like they plan to use their portions of the ISS to make that happen. Business Insider reports that the space agency said in a statement that the new, Russian-exclusive space station would be built around “modules separated from the ISS.”
The good news is that Roscosmos had previously threatened to leave the ISS as early as 2020, whereas NASA’s current plan is to continue using it until 2024. So, confirmation that Russia plans on using the station until then is a bit of relief. However, extending the station’s life past that year now looks highly unlikely for any of the countries involved, as Russia’s Zvezda module houses the station’s propulsion and is necessary for life support systems. NASA does have a backup module, but we’ll have to wait and see if they’re interested enough in keeping the station going after 2024 to put in the effort to get it up into space where it might do us some good.
Meanwhile, Russia sees their new space station as a way to ensure that they have access to space no matter what international relations are like on Earth. By 2030, they plan to send their own human missions to the Moon, where they’re probably really hoping not to find an American flag and validate tons of conspiracy theorists. Oh, and they’ll probably do some science, too.