Russia’s Roscosmos space agency is having a bit of a moment. After the country invaded Ukraine earlier this year, its space agency flirted with the idea of pulling its cosmonauts out of the International Space Station and going it alone. Now, as if to show that it really is quite serious about the idea, Roscosmos has unveiled a model of its potential solo space station.
Earlier this year, Roscosmos CEO Yury Boriso announced that his agency would no longer participate in the ISS. Boriso claimed that, from 2024, the Russian space agency will divert its resources away from the ISS and into a new, solely-Russian space station.
Now, Roscosmos has unveiled a model of what its new space station could look like at a military-industrial exhibition outside Moscow.
According to The Guardian, the new space station, nicknamed “Ross” by Russian state media, will be launched into orbit in two phases. The first would see Roscosmos create a four-module space station, which could start operating while it works on the second phase.
The following phase would include two further modules and a service platform, which the Russian space agency says would offer enough space to accommodate up to four cosmonauts and scientific equipment. According to The Guardian:
“Although designs for some of the station exist, design work is still under way on other segments.
“Russian state media have suggested the launch of the first stage is planned for 2025-26 and no later than 2030. Launch of the second and final stage is planned for 2030-35, they have reported.
“The space station, as currently conceived, would not have a permanent human presence but would be staffed twice a year for extended periods.”
As it stands, NASA is hoping to keep the ISS running until 2030, after which time it will be crashed back to Earth to lay to rest at the bottom of the ocean. The American space agency says it has so far received no notice from Russia that it will pull out of the ISS ahead of this time.
Undertaking a project like this sounds ambitious. So far this year, the West has struck Russia with sanctions designed to punish its leaders and economy for the invasion of Ukraine.
As a result of these sanctions, airlines in the country have been forced to cannibalize planes for parts. So, building an entire new space station while measures like this are still in place would be a tough ask.