After Invading Ukraine, Russia Threatened to Move to Its Own Space Station. It Just Approved Its Launch

  • Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, plans to launch the first module by the end of 2027.

  • Russia expects to begin the first manned flights to its new space station in 2028.

After invading Ukraine, Russia threatened to move to its space station. It just approved its launch
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Against all odds, and despite budget cuts to its space agency, Roscosmos, because of the war in Ukraine, Russia is continuing to build its space station. It plans to launch it in 2028.

Goodbye ISS, hello ROS. This week, Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov approved the assembly plan for the new Russian Orbital Station (ROS), where cosmonauts will move to after Russia leaves the International Space Station (ISS).

The plan is to launch the first ROS module, a 20-ton laboratory that doubles as a power unit, on an Angara A5M rocket from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome in December 2027.

Roscosmos will fire the second module, a docking node with an airlock, in June 2028. In October 2029, it will launch another structure—a habitation module weighing another 20 tons—completing the first phase of space station construction.

When will it start operating? ROS will be able to receive visitors thanks to the new human-crewed spacecraft PTK Oriol. The Russian space agency plans the first two flights for July and October 2028. It wants to permanently inhabit the ROS with Oriol missions every eight months.

Roscomos intends to launch the first cargo flights later that year using the Progress ROS spacecraft. These are similar to the Progress MS spacecraft that travel to the International Space Station. However, they're being adapted to launch on a more powerful Soyuz rocket because the Russian station will be in a more inclined polar orbit than the ISS.

When will Russia abandon the ISS? After initially threatening to leave the International Space Station by 2025 in response to Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine, Roscosmos’ official position is to move to ROS in 2028.

The goal is optimistic, but the Russian space agency’s resources today are scarce. According to astrophysicist Daniel Marín, Russia, like the other partners, will continue to work at the ISS until 2030.

That’s the year when NASA plans to send a SpaceX spacecraft to tow the ISS until it disintegrates in the atmosphere. Launched in November 1998, the international project has aging structures and is increasingly at risk of being hit by space debris.

Image: Roscosmos

Related | Russia Strikes Back: Against All Odds, Its First EUV Photolithography Machine Is Ready

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