Russia extends International Space Station commitment until 2024

Image Courtesy: NASA/Crew of STS-129, Released into the public domain | Wikimedia Commons

The International Space Station. Image Courtesy: NASA/Crew of STS-129, Released into the public domain | Wikimedia Commons

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has outlined its plans to continue its commitment to the International Space Station until 2024 and conduct manned missions to the Moon by 2030.

An official statement from Roscosmos announced that the space agency would continue to fund and support the operation of the ISS until 2024. After this date, however, there are plans to disconnect some of the Russian modules of the ISS – Zarya, Zvezda, Pirs, Poisk and Rassvet – to form a standalone orbiting complex that would ensure Russia’s guaranteed access to space.

Russia’s participation in the global space station partnership has been in doubt following Western sanctions against Russia; prompted by the country’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014. Russian officials subsequently announced that they would not extend funding and other support for the station past 2020, and prohibited sales of the country’s rocket engines to United Launch Alliance, an American launch company. Russian officials also noted that as they currently provide sole access to the station with their Soyuz space capsule, the US would need to rely on trampolines to transport their astronauts to the ISS.

The Obama administration, however, intends to keep the International Space Station operating until at least 2024, with the possibility to extend its mission until 2028 – the 30-year anniversary of the launch of the outpost’s first module. Similarly, the European Space Agency plan to put forward new proposals to increase space station funding from European member states in 2016. Canada and Japan are both currently evaluating the value of their contribution to the program before deciding to commit to more years of space station operations.

The statement also confirmed that Roscosmos are planning robotic and manned missions to the Moon by 2030; legitimizing a Roscosmos strategy document, leaked in 2012, which suggested that the space agency were, once again, planning manned missions to the Moon.

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Rebecca Davies

Aspiring science communicator in the third year of a BA Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies degree (hons.) at Cardiff University. Science, Antarctica and Technology Editor at The Global Panorama. Media, Marketing and PR Officer at Beacons DEC: a small environmental education center. Previously worked as a radio presenter, Media Ambassador for the National Youth Agency and a Press Office Assistant at the British Science Festival. Contact: @rebbecaalouise

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