Dmitry Rogozin's announcement at the very beginning of December about the planned withdrawal from the ISS project practically coincided with the announcement of the Russian President about the termination of the South Stream project, therefore it passed much less noticeably. Although in fairness it should be noted that Rogozin's rhetoric on this issue has remained unchanged since May 2014: the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian government has previously stated that Russia intends to withdraw from the International Space Station project. And the first prerequisites for such a development of events appeared even before the new period of confrontation between Russia and the West and mutual sanctions. For the first time, they started talking about the possible withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the ISS project back in 2012.
The first such statements were made at the aerospace show The Farnborough International Exhibition in 2012. The then head of Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, hinted at Russia's withdrawal from the ISS project. From his words, it followed that the Russian Federation is not only ready to build its own orbital station at the technical level, but is also developing a number of new modules for the ISS, which in the future can be used as basic blocks for the future generation of manned orbital stations.
“The issue of the prospects for manned space exploration is no longer a matter of the industry, but of political decisions,” Zvezda TV channel quotes Dmitry Rogozin as saying. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the military-industrial complex noted that Russia is not going to extend its participation in the ISS project from 2020 to 2024, as the American side had previously suggested. At present, the Federal Space Agency has already been instructed to submit its justifications for the deployment of the Russian space station and submit them to the Russian government for consideration. If all goes well, work on the deployment of the station could begin in 2017.
Photo of the ISS on May 30, 2011
There is more politics in this decision, as stated by Rogozin, who considers the ISS "a passed stage." In many ways, this was facilitated by the aggravation of relations between Moscow and the West, the introduction of mutual political and trade sanctions. It was politics that became one of the most significant reasons for the isolation of Russian manned space exploration. Roscosmos notes that in the cooperation of the countries that currently operate the ISS, a special working group was created on the recommendations of Russia. This group is faced with the task of determining the future fate of the ISS and setting the date for the decommissioning of this station. Roscosmos has already agreed with NASA that it will present its position on this issue by the end of 2014. In particular, a project is being considered to create several small orbital stations that will solve specific problems in near-earth orbit, as well as international stations that can be placed at equilibrium points between the Moon and the Earth or on the back side of our natural satellite.
Our country has been participating in the ISS program since 1998. Today Roskosmos spends 6 times less on maintaining the station than NASA (in 2013 alone, America spent about $ 3 billion on the station), although the Russian Federation owns the right to half of the space station's crew. At the same time, back in May 2014, Rogozin said that Roscosmos spends about 30% of its budgetary funds on participation in this international project. These funds could be used for other purposes.
Currently, the ISS includes 5 Russian modules, which form the Russian segment of the station. We are talking about the Zarya module - this is a functional cargo block (it was first launched into orbit on November 20, 1998, 20, 26 tons), a Zvezda life support module (launched on July 26, 2000, 20, 3 tons), a docking module Pirs (launched on September 15, 2001, 3, 58 tons), a small research module Search (launched on November 12, 2010, 3, 67 tons) and a docking and cargo module Rassvet (launched on May 18, 2010, 8, 0 tons). According to the plans of the Federal Space Agency for 2013-2018, by the end of 2017 the Russian segment of the station was supposed to consist of 6 modules, and by the end of 2018 - of 7 modules.
3D graphics of the approximate appearance of the Russian station by 2030, TK "Zvezda"
It has already been suggested that the Russian station could include modules from the Russian segment of the ISS. At the same time, experts noted that initially the configuration of the new station could be built on the basis of a multipurpose laboratory and nodal modules, the Oka-T spacecraft and the Progress-SM and Soyuz-SM spacecraft. Industry representatives told the Russian Zvezda TV channel that Oka-T is a completely autonomous technological module. It is being developed by specialists from RSC Energia. According to the terms of reference, this module will consist of a scientific laboratory, a pressurized compartment, an airlock, a docking station, and an unpressurized compartment in which experiments can be carried out in open space.
It is reported that the laid weight of scientific equipment on board will be approximately 850 kg, it will be located both inside the module and on its surface. The battery life of "Oki-T" is estimated in the period from 90 to 180 days. After the expiration of this period, the module will have to dock with the main station or spacecraft for refueling, maintenance of scientific equipment and other operations. The new module will have to make its first flight at the end of 2018. In general, Russia will be able to get a full-fledged analogue of the ISS, the whole question is whether it needs it. So earlier it was announced about a very costly lunar program of Russia, the estimated cost of which is about 2.46 trillion rubles. Experts disagree on the need for their own space station.
The editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine, Igor Korotchenko, noted in an interview with Svobodnaya Pressa that he had no doubts about the need to deploy the Russian station in orbit. At the same time, he gave some clarifications about the characteristics of the station. The Russian media reported that the inclination of the station's orbit would increase the coverage of the territory of Russia up to 90%. “To be honest, it is not entirely clear what exactly is meant. The ISS also revolves around our planet at a speed of 8 km / s, flying over the territory of Russia and the entire globe. There will be the same view from a completely Russian station,”Igor Korotchenko noted.
At the same time, he is convinced that it is necessary to recreate the entire Russian segment in orbit. Partnership within the framework of an international project is no longer promising. On the ISS, Russia is not the hosts, but rather the guests (the station is under US jurisdiction). Thus, Russia is partly working on the space potential of our direct competitors. Therefore, it is important for Russia to develop its own orbital project, especially since the country has the necessary technical groundwork for this.
Yuri Zaitsev, the current academic adviser to the Academy of Engineering Sciences of the Russian Federation, is much more skeptical of the intentions to create a Russian orbital station. In an interview with SP, he noted that, most likely, we can talk about an image response to the West. It is true that we will prove to the West by opening our analogue of the ISS is not entirely clear. According to Zaitsev, the European Space Agency (ESA) is landing a robot on a comet, and we are going to circle the Earth again. According to him, this decision to create its own orbital station may still be revised.
Roskosmos has already spoken about the inexpediency of an orbital station for Earth sensing tasks. It is possible to observe Russia from space from ordinary satellites, without putting modules with a total mass of hundreds of tons into space. According to Zaitsev, it would be more logical to invest in the development of the Russian constellation of satellites. Even India has dozens of them now, and there is nothing to say about the PRC. At the same time, there are now 129 domestic spacecraft in space, but not all of them are in an active state.
The current academic advisor believes that the greatest attention should now be paid to automation. Manned projects and programs are needed, but you can't do without machines. Without their use, it is not possible to solve fundamental problems in space and carry out various applied research. The main direction for Russia is currently the Moon. In this case, we are not talking about "tourist" flights, but about the foundation of a lunar base in the region of the poles. At the initial stage, this can be a visited (watch) facility, and in the future it can be transferred to the permanent one.
Russian modules in the ISS
Oleg Mukhin, who is a member of the Presidium of the Russian Federation of Cosmonautics, believes that the resumption of the Russian orbital program is justified. According to him, Russia has accumulated vast experience with the Mir station; in addition to it, we also had the first Salyut orbital station. That is why the Americans turned to us for help when developing the ISS. They had an experience with their Skylab station, but it was short. At the same time, the ISS base blocks were manufactured by the Russian aerospace industry.
Of course, at the present time, "drones" and spacecraft can solve many issues that relate to monitoring the earth's surface. But there are a number of problems, the solution of which is possible only with the presence of a person. The last word on this issue should remain with the Academy of Sciences. Russian scientists must clearly define the range of those experimental problems that will need to be solved in zero gravity conditions. Therefore, it is obvious that investing in a project will not make sense if we do not know how to download it.
If the decision on the Russian space station is positive, then it will be created on the basis of the modules and technologies that were used in the ISS. But, according to Mukhin, this is a second order issue. Russia has the necessary developments for the construction of modules for the new station. Back in the mid-80s of the last century, the USSR was thinking about building a station of the 4th generation, which would be named Mir-2. The base of the station was supposed to be a module weighing more than 100 tons. But, unfortunately, the political processes in the country and the collapse of the USSR did not allow bringing this project to its logical conclusion. A large and powerful station would be useful to Russia. The Energia launch vehicle, which was created specifically for the Buran space shuttle, could launch cargo weighing more than 100 tons into space. The larger the orbital station, the more scientific equipment and experiments can be carried out on board and the more researchers are accepted.
Oleg Mukhin also noted that Moscow could offer cooperation to Beijing, which may not be able to pull alone the creation of its own orbital station. Thus, international competition in space will only grow. He also noted that at the new Russian station it would be possible to bet on space tourism, so it would bring real money. According to Mukhin, this direction cannot be given to the Americans, who have private companies that can send people into space. Currently, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Boeing are competing with each other to provide space taxi services to transport people to Earth orbit.