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The ISS had been commissioned to continue until 2028 as part of an international collaboration in space. However, a report from Russian manufacturer RSC Energia, the prime developer and contractor of the Russian crewed spaceflight program, has revealed the orbiting laboratory might not last that long.
According to flight director of the Russian segment of the ISS, Vladimir Alekseevich Soloviev, several elements on the ISS have been damaged beyond repair, and the space station might be forced into early retirement.
He said that Russia foresees an “avalanche of failures” on the ISS.
Mr Soloviev said that the damage will prove to be too costly, and Russia may have to create its own orbiting laboratory.
Mr Soloviev told the Russian Academy of Sciences: “Until 2025, Russia has obligations to participate in the ISS program.
“There are already a number of elements that have been seriously damaged and are out of service.
“Many of them are not replaceable. After 2025, we predict an avalanche-like failure of numerous elements onboard the ISS.”
However, Dmitry Rogozin, who is head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said it may be too early to retire.
Mr Rogozin said that while some modules are damaged beyond repair, they could be replaced.
He said on Twitter: “I think it’s too early to write off the station.
“I see the great potential of the ISS for the development of space tourism and the participation of private space companies.”
NASA already has its own plans in place following the ISS.
The project has been dubbed the Deep Space Gateway, and will likely act as a replacement for the ISS but will instead orbit the Moon.
While the ISS is, as the name suggests, an international collaboration, with the likes of the US, Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe having had astronauts on it, the Gateway will be more NASA-centric.
As a result, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has distanced itself from the project, saying a more global approach is needed.
Russia is unlikely to want to be led by the US in its space program, so it will attempt to get its own missions up and running or participate with other global partners.
Mr Rogozin told the International Astronautical Congress on October 12: “In our view, the lunar Gateway in its current form is too US-centric, so to speak.
“Russia is likely to refrain from participating in it on a large scale.”
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