Welcome to the new "World": why does Russia need its own space station?

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Welcome to the new "World": why does Russia need its own space station?
Welcome to the new "World": why does Russia need its own space station?

"Moongate" of discord

In April 2021, an event occurred that at first few people paid attention to, but which, as it turned out, will predetermine the development of Russian manned space exploration for many years to come. Russia suddenly announced to everyone its firm intention to obtain a "national" orbital station.

She has already managed to get several names, which are causing a fair amount of confusion. It is called both the "National Orbital Space Station" and the "Russian Orbital Service Station" (many have probably heard the well-established abbreviation ROSS), and more succinctly - ROS or the Russian Orbital Station. It will become an alternative for the ISS, which in turn became the conditional successor to the Soviet Mir.

"The ISS is seriously outdated, and the government is proposing to speak with foreign partners in advance."

- said Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov on the air of the program “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin ". Russia will withdraw from the ISS project from 2025.

What does this mean? Is Russia really “out of the way” with the ISS, or is it just political games? Politics plays a very important role in this whole story, but the Russian segment of the ISS is indeed in a deplorable state. The air leaks that followed the cosmonauts and the failure of the SKV-2 air conditioning system in the Zvezda module speak eloquently about the situation. And during the relatively recent experiment "Constant" there was smoke on the scientific equipment: fortunately, no one was hurt. The situation was somewhat brightened up by the docking of the "Science" module, but there are also a lot of questions to it.

The West is also talking about the fact that the ISS is not eternal, naming, however, rather vague terms of abandoning it: either the middle of the decade, or the 2030th.


One thing is clear - the change is just around the corner. The station will be replaced by a new lunar orbital station Gateway. At one time Russia with its colossal experience in space was seen in the Gateway project. However, at first, the West demanded that Roscosmos work according to their technical standards, and in January 2021 it became known that Russian specialists were excluded from the expert group discussing the prospects for creating a lunar station.

In theory, everything can change, but so far the "trend" is obvious: Russia and the West are not on their way. Thus, the manned cosmonautics of the Russian Federation is in a difficult situation - sooner or later they will abandon the ISS, the country does not participate in the Gateway project, and a manned flight to the Moon seems to be an expensive and distant event.

General arrangement of the station

And what about the Russian orbital station?

"There is an understanding that the funds required to maintain the ISS, maintain equipment, and the funds to deploy a separate national orbital station are about the same money."

- Dmitry Rogozin said recently.

There are some doubts about this: a common project is one thing, a national station is another. There is one more thing. For Russia, the creation of its own orbital station is a new experience.

On the other hand, if you look at the situation from the outside, then in theory the possibility of building a station takes place. The country has a means of delivering into orbit both the modules of the future station and astronauts on board the ROSS.


What exactly will the new station be? In short - it will become something like the above-mentioned "World". The station's orbital altitude will be from 300 to 350 km. According to data from open sources, at the first stage, the ROSS will consist of several modules: a scientific and energy module; modified nodal module "Berth"; base module and gateway module.

The first stage is calculated until about 2030. The second (2030-2035) involves the launch of several more modules, namely, a target, target production module and a spacecraft service platform.

The main component of the future station will be what is now known as the scientific and energy module or NEM. An important mission falls on his shoulders: he must become the control center of the station, as well as support the life and health of astronauts. Initially, they wanted to enter NEM into the ISS in 2025. Now the product will have to be slightly modified for the new station.

The NEM module is rather large: its weight will be slightly more than 20 tons. The volume of the sealed compartment of the module is 92 m³. For comparison, the hermetic volume of the Zvezda module is 89.3 m³.


The NEM has one important feature: it has only one docking station. The stern is occupied by the unpressurized part of the module, where, in particular, the solar panels are located. Therefore, the real birth of the station will take place only after the connection of the nodal module to it.

It is assumed that he will receive six docking stations that can be used for a variety of purposes. The central nodal module will allow, if necessary, to replace any other: this is very important, because situations can be very different (including those requiring immediate and decisive measures).

An important element of the station is the gateway module. It is he who will allow astronauts to go into outer space. One of its features should be the presence of two gateways at once, which will be a kind of safety net in case of an unforeseen situation.

It is difficult to judge with certainty about other components. Previously, it was planned to deliver a commercial module to the station that would accommodate four tourists. They wanted to equip it with two large windows in order to make the stay of people there more comfortable.

In any case, by the time the practical implementation of the project begins, a lot can change, although fundamental decisions, such as the choice of the first module, as far as can be judged, have already been made.

Ships and rockets

In Russia recently, they often talk about new rockets and spaceships. Thus, the country continues to work on the super-heavy Yenisei, which, if it appeared now, would become the most powerful rocket in existence (while the first place is occupied by Falcon Heavy from SpaceX). In addition, they are actively working on a new manned spacecraft, which many know under the name "Eagle" or "Federation", as well as its smaller version, "Eaglet".


At the same time, even the available technical means should be enough to implement the plan. The modules for the station can be launched using a new heavy-class rocket "Angara-A5", capable of putting almost 25 tons into a low reference orbit. In the future, its more powerful versions, "Angara-A5M" and in the region of 25 and 38 tons, respectively. Astronauts can be delivered to the station on the Soyuz MS spacecraft, which, although morally obsolete, continues to remain a reliable means of delivery.

Science or country prestige?

According to Dmitry Rogozin, most of the experiments at the station will be carried out in open space, and the main payload will be on the outer board. In theory, this somewhat increases the scientific value of ROSS, but science as such is of deeply secondary importance for the project.

At one time, American professor Robert Park said that most of the scientific research planned for the ISS is not of primary importance for science, and artificial weightlessness can be used to simulate the conditions of the ISS. Robert Park is not the only critic of the ISS. Others were embarrassed by the cost of the program, which has long exceeded $ 150 billion.

But if space stations are "the last century," why are the Americans and their allies creating a Gateway? In fact, everything is somewhat more complicated here. Gateway will become part of the large-scale Artemis program aimed at landing astronauts on the moon and creating a permanent base there. In theory, this can be done without the Gateway, but so far the station is seen as an important element of the program. It will act as a kind of staging post: that is, a conditional "gateway" leading to the surface of the moon.


In theory, Russia has its own answer. It is too early to judge what will come of it, but Roscosmos wants to explore the moon together with China, creating an inhabited base there.

"In this way, we by mutual efforts contribute to the advancement of human progress in the field of aerospace technologies and socio-economic development."

- commented recently on the situation in the China National Space Administration.

Allegedly, there is already an understanding of where to start. As stated at the presentation at the Day of Chinese Space in Nanjing, the first stage - "reconnaissance" - will be carried out by 2025. On the part of Russia will be presented unmanned landing stations "Luna-25" and "Luna-27", as well as the orbital "Luna-26". From the side of China - Chang'e-6 and Chang'e-7 stations.

The initiative of the joint base itself is not so bad, but how to implement this "mega-project" together with the ROSS station, which is also designed for completely different purposes, is a big question. It is already clear that each of the programs will require huge funds and incredible efforts of the entire space industry.

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