After more than two decades of international cooperation in space research, Russia announced this week that it will withdraw from the International Space Station in 2025 and build and manage its own floating laboratory, which will enter orbit in 2030.
When the relationship between Russia and the United States has steadily deteriorated in many aspects, the reason why the two countries made the decision to withdraw was because the two major powers also accused each other of competing for military space.
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Russian Interfax News Agency quoted Dmitry Rogozin, Director of the Ross Cosmos Space Agency, as saying: “If we can put it into orbit by 2030 according to our plan, it will be a huge breakthrough. .”
“The willingness there will make the world’s manned space exploration take a new step.”
What does the International Space Station do?
The space station is essentially a large spacecraft that can stay in low earth orbit for a long time. Like a large laboratory in space, it allows astronauts to board and stay for weeks or months to conduct microgravity experiments.
The former Soviet Union’s Mir space station (later operated by Russia) began operation from 1986 to 2001. The International Space Station has been in space since 1998 and is known for its exemplary cooperation among the five participating space agencies. It: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada).
For more than 20 years since its launch, mankind has been conducting survival and scientific research on the US$150 billion International Space Station under microgravity conditions, making it impossible to make a breakthrough on Earth.
According to NASA data, so far, 243 people from 19 countries/regions have visited the International Space Station, and the floating laboratory has received more than 3,000 research and education by researchers from 108 countries and regions Investigate and conduct cutting-edge research in various fields such as biology and humans. Physiology, physics, materials and space sciences.
The recent U.S.-Russian space confrontation
According to the “Financial Times” report, Russia has always been a key participant in the success of the International Space Station, and other space agencies have relied on advanced Russian modular space station construction technology to build space stations in the first few years.
Russia is also essential because its Soyuz passenger car is the only way to transport astronauts to the International Space Station since the United States retired the space shuttle program in 2011. However, this dependence on Russia ended last year, but when the United States began to rely on Russia, it used the SpaceX system developed by Elon Musk.
This is a major blow to Roscosmos, because it means that the funds obtained from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to transport astronauts to the space station have ended. According to the report, between 2011 and 2019, NASA spent $3.9 billion on Soyuz flights.
Next year, due to the delayed delivery of the Starliner capsule by Boeing, it is expected that the United States will have another domestic option besides SpaceX.
This development also took place at a time when the relationship between the West and Russia has been developing. From bad to bad. The United States accused the Kremlin of carrying out the “SolarWinds” attack and interfering in the 2020 election. Last week, after the Czech Republic alleged that Russia was involved in the 2014 arsenal explosion, Russia was hit from the NATO alliance.
Last year, the United States accused Russia of conducting weapons tests after launching projectiles from Russian satellites. In return, Russia condemned the United States for treating space as a “military theater.”
So, what does Russia plan to do now?
Russia now plans to build and manage its own space station, with the goal of launching it into space in 2030. According to the Interfax news agency, the Russian space module was assembled by Energia at a cost of at least US$5 billion.
According to reports, the station will orbit the earth at higher latitudes, allowing it to better observe the polar regions, especially due to Russia’s planned development Arctic Sea Road As the ice melts.
The establishment of a new weather station will also help Russia to cope with the challenges faced by astronauts on the aging International Space Station, such as conducting experiments and adapting the latest technology to the hardware architecture that has more than two decades of history.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said: “We must not risk our lives [of our cosmonauts]. Today’s structure-related conditions and the aging of metals may lead to irreversible consequences-disasters. We must not let this happen. “
However, leaving the International Space Station will also mean that Russian researchers will not be able to enter a laboratory with more than 15 years of engineering and assembly work, and the research potential of the laboratory will only really take off until now. The British “Financial Times” reported that NASA has ruled out the possibility of decommissioning the International Space Station until at least 2028, after which it may continue to use it by upgrading key systems.
Borisov also said that Russia will manage the space station on its own, but that opens the door for other countries to join the treaty. last year, Russia rejected the U.S. proposal As part of the Artemis plan, an agreement was signed with China last month to jointly develop a lunar base.