ISS to live till 2020
Russia plans to extend the International Space Station's service life to at least 2020. Federal Space Agency's Chief Anatoly Perminov made this announcement as he commented on the recent decision by the United States to cancel the "Constellation" space research program, which envisaged flights to the Moon and Mars. Perminov said Russia would go on building the "Vostochny" space launch pad so that all space research programs, manned missions in particular, could be based in Russia.
Hit by the financial crisis the United States administration and NASA reconsidered space research programs and cancelled the lunar and Mars missions. However, the White House will be financing the American segment of the ISS for another ten years. And in case of the station's good technological performance its service life may be extended to 2028. Russia, the ISS's second most important partner, finds the move important.
"Russia finds it important because it coincides with its views on manned flight programs and answers the needs of the federal space research program. Russia has always called for the extension of the ISS life to at least 2020 because research effort is just gathering pace and the station has received hefty financial injections and was supplied with cutting-edge technologies. A year ago it was provided with research modules of the European and Japanese space agencies and two Russian modules. Next year will see the commissioning of yet another large Russian module".
The United States is to put the finishing touches to its segment of the station this year. Russia is slightly behind - it plans to complete its segment in 2013. Apart from that, American and Russian designers are looking into the possibility of extending life for the "Zarya" cargo unit, which was put into orbit in 1998. As for the ISS's future space agency representatives will be discussing it at a meeting in Tokyo shortly. And there are other points on the space exploration agenda.
"NASA will be developing new technologies, rocket engines and rocket-engineering as a whole, Anatoly Perminov says. Russia finds these innovation projects attractive and is ready to participate".
According to Anatoly Perminov, Roscosmos offers a wide range of attractive projects too. It pledges a long-term lease of the Baikonur space launch facility in Kazakhstan but insists that Russia should build a space launch pad of its own.
"This means the entire space research program will move to Russia, Anatoly Perminov goes on to say, provided there are no changes in the financing. "Vostochny" is to host its first flight in 2015".
Russia has extended the lease of the Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan for 50 years. This acquires particular importance given that American astronauts will largely have to rely on the Russian space ships to get to the ISS since American shuttles stop flights this year and the United States has no commercial spacecraft like the Russian "Soyuz".