Russia may be planning its own space station

Putin's is latest in contradictory statements about Russia's future in space.
By Laurel Kornfeld | Apr 17, 2015
In the most recent of several contradictory statements issued regarding Russia's future in space, President Vladimir Putin announced plans to build a Russian orbital space station in 2023, once the operational lifetime of the International Space Station (ISS) ends.

The Russian president made the announcement during a live national call-in program that lasted several hours.

Recently, RussianDeputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin said his country plans to continue using the ISS through 2024.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden described the ISS as "the perfect role" model for cooperation between the US and Russia during a House subcommittee meeting discussing the space agency's proposed 2016 budget.

On several occasions over the past year, Russian officials hinted at possible plans to separate the Russian components of the ISS and reassemble them into a stand-alone Russian space station.

Three months ago, Russia proposed construction of a new space station for use by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, nicknamed the BRICS nations.

That proposal came from Russia's Military Industrial Commission, which is headed by Putin.

Joint US-Russian collaboration on the ISS is scheduled to end in 2020 though NASA has expressed the desire to extend it through 2024.

Since the Ukraine crisis began, Russian officials have on several occasions suggested the country might build its own space station or build one together with China.

The Chinese are in the process of designing their own space station and have already sent astronauts into space.

During the call-in session, Putin noted only five percent of Russia can be observed from the ISS.

"We use the ISS actively for science and the economy, but from the ISS only 5 percent of the area of Russia can be seen.From a national station, we should be able to see the whole of the area of our huge country."

Yet only last month, Russian space head Igor Komarov publicly discussed the notion of a joint venture between the US, Russia, and other nations to construct a new space station to succeed the ISS.

Komarov described the future space station as "an open project" that "willfeature not only the current members of the ISS."

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