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February 24, 2015 5:15 PM   Subscribe

A statement posted to the Russian space agency’s website said a meeting of the Roscosmos science and technical council considered Russia’s future human spaceflight plans, favoring the continued use of the International Space Station until 2024.

Then Russia plans to remove its modules from the International Space Station to form an all-Russian complex in orbit.

posted by Artw (54 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Vladimir Putin: cosmic asshole.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:32 PM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Obviously a renewed space race is a pretty lousy silver lining to the cloud that is the current violence in Ukraine, but it might be nice to see something good come out of all if this.

Maybe that's too much to ask.
posted by Oxydude at 5:35 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


So Putin is planning to stay in power until 2024 then retire to the "Russian Space Complex", right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:35 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd be willing to bet that in 2024 neither country will be capable of doing anything of the sort.
posted by selfnoise at 5:38 PM on February 24, 2015 [12 favorites]


Just wait until they insist that neighboring modules were actually Russian since the beginning and the astronauts in them have voted freely to join the Russian Complex, and anyway, the European modules are fascist.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2015 [60 favorites]


I'm surprised they'll wait that long, but I suppose this stuff needs some fairly long-term planning.
posted by pompomtom at 5:43 PM on February 24, 2015


How much would this cost the Russians?
posted by clavdivs at 5:47 PM on February 24, 2015


Guessing it won't be called "Mir". Maybe if we see a huge monolith near Jupiter we'll change our mind?

(Also, if we deorbit ISS, NASA could spend its budget to triple the entire planetary sciences/exploration budget ... not that we would, but just sayin' ...)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:50 PM on February 24, 2015


It reminds me of the heady days of Sputnik, and Yuri Gagarin! (link)
posted by argonauta at 5:56 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


if you can find it, the bbc special, "cosmonauts: how russia won the space race" is really, really good and an interesting back drop to these new plans.
posted by nadawi at 5:57 PM on February 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


In a related story, Ukraine has decided not to bother with putting anything into orbit.
posted by uosuaq at 6:01 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


What are the orbital mechanics of such a move?
posted by odinsdream at 6:02 PM on February 24, 2015


Fine, let them waste their rubles on manned follies. Perhaps we can let our chunk burn up in the atmosphere and get down to the real business of the robotic AI exploration of the solar system. Oh wait, I forgot about the aerospace lobby. Never mind...
posted by jim in austin at 6:02 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kind of buried in the article is that the U.S. also had previously planned to abandon the ISS in 2024.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:11 PM on February 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


Guessing it won't be called "Mir."

Howzabout "Vlast"?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


In New Russia, you orbit Space Station!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember when I was a kid in the US had a space program.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:18 PM on February 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


"Russia will still have responsibility for maintaining the space station’s orbit and steering the complex away from space junk."

So, this is a Domestic matter.
posted by clavdivs at 6:20 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


I remember when I was a kid in the US had a space program.

We have one now, too. But also when you were a kid.
posted by thefoxgod at 6:21 PM on February 24, 2015


The dates are different, but this isn't really that new. NASA only plans to support the ISS until 2024. What Russia is saying is that when NASA steps away, they'll disconnect the Russian modules and use them as a core of a new station.

One problem with the ISS is supporting it is really expensive, and it's probably only going to get more expensive. While the case for continuous man-on-orbit is a debatable subject, hardware under stress lasts only so long, the ISS modules are under a lot of stress, thanks to being pressure vessels, and if you want to stay on orbit, the better answer may not be trying to keep the ISS functioning, it would be to put a new station up, and take advantage of the 20+ years of materials science we have now compared to when the ISS was designed.
posted by eriko at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2015 [18 favorites]


China's President Xi Wants More Military Use of Space

Long time since IGY. Spandex jackets for everyone, my foot.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:23 PM on February 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kind of buried in the article is that the U.S. also had previously planned to abandon the ISS in 2024.

Yeah, and some of the Russian modules are really old. Zarya was the first launched, in 1998; in 2024 it will be 26 years old, more than two-and-a-half times as Mir was when it was deorbited, having become by that point pretty decrepit. Granted, some are newer (Rassvet is the newest, 2010), but they're still going to look pretty bad in 2024.
posted by thegears at 6:24 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't understand, do they plan to just jettison the US/European modules? Surely they're not completely dead weight. Even in orbital mothballs, there must be some use to having those modules available.
posted by adept256 at 6:30 PM on February 24, 2015


Also, if we deorbit ISS, NASA could spend its budget to triple the entire planetary sciences/exploration budget ...

Or we could reduce NASA's budget by that amount and spend it on farm subsidies.


Fine, let them waste their rubles on manned follies. Perhaps we can let our chunk burn up in the atmosphere and get down to the real business of the robotic AI exploration of the solar system.

Look, that tobacco isn't going to grow itself!
posted by happyroach at 6:34 PM on February 24, 2015


I'd be willing to bet that in 2024 neither country will be capable of doing anything of the sort.

Hell, one down already. I sincerely doubt the US will ever have its own manned program again.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:37 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or heck, we can spend the savings on research into inflatable space habitats or something useful beyond LEO. We were promised "Star Trek", we got "Hoarders".
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:42 PM on February 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


Perhaps we can let our chunk burn up in the atmosphere and get down to the real business of the robotic AI exploration of the solar system. Oh wait, I forgot about the aerospace lobby. Never mind.

You also forgot that there's no AI.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:14 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Vladimir Putin: cosmic asshole.

Space Asshole
posted by Foosnark at 7:14 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


...and if you want to stay on orbit, the better answer may not be trying to keep the ISS functioning, it would be to put a new station up, and take advantage of the 20+ years of materials science we have now compared to when the ISS was designed.

Whoa, whoa, WHOA. You're talking about taking money from the Space Transportation System, the new rocket that will take us...somehwere while providing jobs to certain congressional districts. That ain't American!

But yeah, the Russians have been talking about doing this for a while now, including add new modules. Meanwhile the US doesn't have that option, but none of the modules on the US segment are capable providing guidance and altitude control. So the bottom of the Pacific really is the best place for it.

I think there is vague talk of keeping the ISS operational until 2028. Things could get really interesting if the US wants to do that and the Russians don't.

Meanwhile the Chinese intend to have a space station up and running by 2020..
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


adept256: "I don't understand, do they plan to just jettison the US/European modules? Surely they're not completely dead weight. Even in orbital mothballs, there must be some use to having those modules available."

If I read the article correctly, the modules they would use going forward are the ones they will be launching soon. These were not launched earlier because of budget delays and other delays. They have not clarified what to do with the old modules.

Makes sense. Why even launch them if they were only going to be used until 2020 or 2024? If the US and Europeans are abandoning the ISS in 2024, they will keep their new modules up in space. I actually think this is good news for the US and European programs. They agreed to extend the ISS to 2024 when it looked like they might use the sanctions as an excuse to bail and set up their modules sooner.
posted by 724A at 7:23 PM on February 24, 2015


You also forgot that there's no AI.

Yeah, for exactly the same reason there is a space station...
posted by jim in austin at 7:23 PM on February 24, 2015


I don't understand, do they plan to just jettison the US/European modules?

No, they plan to undock the Russian Orbital segment from the rest of the station. Legally, diplomatically and practically they can't do anything with the US Segment, 'cause America would not be happy with that. The really bad news for the non-Russian members of the iSS is that the Russian segment has the majority of the life support systems and command/control of the station, specifically in the Zvezda Service Module. Basically, the US segment can't survive on its own is what I'm gathering here.

No doubt US Congressional hearings will be held about this and they'll just ignore the fact that no one in Congress wanted to pay for this ability in the US Segment.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 PM on February 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, I'm not sold on this being a good idea of the Russians. Space is a harsh environment and by 2024, the Zarya and Zvezda segments will have been in space since 1998. That's 26 years. The MIR space station was in space for 15 years and was full of problems in the final years.

Sooo, good luck with that if Russians decide to go through with this new station, called OPSEK. It's supposed to be used to assemble spacecraft for deep space missions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:09 PM on February 24, 2015


cause America would not be happy with that

Yeah... they wouldn't want to risk sanctions.
posted by pompomtom at 8:55 PM on February 24, 2015


Why remove the modules at all? Just close the fucking hatches.

Vote Cool Papa Bell for Head Scientist 2016
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:15 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


The future of space is robots.

TARS and CASE, people.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:18 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Robots are expensive and cost money. Humans self-assemble and there's a pretty good supply of labor as it it. My hope is that we get our shit together and bang out some solar power satellites in GEO. But at this point, I'm pretty used to disappointment.
posted by mikelieman at 9:24 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Robots are expensive and cost money. Humans self-assemble and there's a pretty good supply of labor as it it.

Now, if only we could get the humans to run on electricity instead of air, water and food, we'd really have something.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:29 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Air, water, and food is easy. With all the money wasted on the F-35, the only thing keeping us from sending union construction crews to GEO is the will to do it.
posted by mikelieman at 9:50 PM on February 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


Guys, guys, I've got this all sussed out, I can get us a great deal on a lightly used Cardassian ore processing station through the guy who runs the bar there.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:52 PM on February 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think I've seen this all before, and Moonraker was a crappy movie.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:43 PM on February 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, those Russians…
posted by mazola at 10:48 PM on February 24, 2015


Vladimir Putin: cosmic asshole.

In this case, dare I say, perhaps more of a space cowboy.
posted by Samizdata at 11:01 PM on February 24, 2015


Cool Papa Bell: "Why remove the modules at all? Just close the fucking hatches.

Vote Cool Papa Bell for Head Scientist 2016
"

Nope. Because I am the one with the particle cannon nanosats.

And the awesome zero gee hydroponic weed.
posted by Samizdata at 11:12 PM on February 24, 2015


Probably have a higher life expectancy that Russia proper
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:48 PM on February 24, 2015


The US (and presumably everyone else involved in the ISS) could just say "Fine" and hand the whole lot over to the Russians. They'd have a lot of fun keeping it going by themselves.

"It's been a long time since the IGY" - not so long, actually. The reason IGY was such a pivotal year for space was that both sides saw it as the perfect excuse to push their military/secret space agendas under cover of THE SCIENCE. Truman only really cared about space inasmuch as it gave him eyes in the sky, and for that he needed to be able to spend money on it and make sure that it was politically impossible for the Soviets and their pals to raise legal objections to overflight.
posted by Devonian at 3:13 AM on February 25, 2015


nadawi's comment was very timely - I watched How Russia Won the Space Race last night on BBC 4 (clips here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lcxms) Absolutely amazing, moving footage.

The cosmonauts, who learned to live in space on Mir etc (and have been in space for over half a century), gained this knowledge often at a high price - their and their collegues' lives. Thus, they felt a little resentful when this knowledge was shared during the ISS programme.
posted by Kiwi at 5:18 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought ISS was destroyed during George Clooney's final mission?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:52 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I thought ISS was destroyed during George Clooney's final mission?

I thought President Morgan Freeman authorized replacement funding.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:49 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ghost Clooney is still up there, helping out.
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


But yeah, the Russians have been talking about doing this for a while now, including add new modules. Meanwhile the US doesn't have that option, but none of the modules on the US segment are capable providing guidance and altitude control. So the bottom of the Pacific really is the best place for it.

It would be pretty trivial to send up a booster that would clamp on and move the US modules. Indeed, since (as you note) they don't have attitude or thrust control, you might need that booster to deorbit them safely.

After Skylab, I can guarantee you that the ISS will be deliberately deorbited, not just allowed to fall, unless something very wrong has happened to civilization, in which case, just blame the angry gods.
posted by eriko at 9:29 AM on February 25, 2015


I don't understand, do they plan to just jettison the US/European modules?

A friend emailed me last night, correcting me on my original answer. I had talked about a lot about Russia's OSPEK idea for a space station, but evidently that's based on older ideas. In the story that's linked in this post, Russia is talking about using newer modules that haven't been launched yet and probably won't be until 2017 or so. The idea is to take those newer modules as a basis for a new separate space station, avoiding all the potential problems of building a space station with 20 year old parts.

Long story short, it's not totally clear how the Russians would separate their modules and what would happen with the remaining modules and how soon, etc etc. They're just saying they plan to do X, about 10 years from now.

It would be pretty trivial to send up a booster that would clamp on and move the US modules. Indeed, since (as you note) they don't have attitude or thrust control, you might need that booster to deorbit them safely.

This is where it gets interesting and muddled to me. The Zarya module originally had the attitude and thrust control, but once the Zvevda module was attached, control passed to it. So I wonder if Zarya could be reactivated to provide deorbit control (probably not?) or if the Russians leave Zvevda and only take the newer modules, then obviously it could do the deorbiting.

Naturally, all of this depends on the Russians actually launching these new modules, which are already behind schedule. They obviously have the know how, but money always seems to be problem with space flight.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:49 AM on February 25, 2015


President Morgan Freeman

It's time to make this dream a reality, people.
posted by mikelieman at 10:50 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm waiting for the cash-drenched Vatican to put up their orbiting station Myrrh
posted by Chitownfats at 9:23 PM on February 25, 2015


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