Russia is Abandoning the International Space Station by 2024

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Contrary to Neil Sedaka, breaking up doesn’t seem to be hard to do at the Russian space program Roscosmos – it announced over the weekend that it is breaking off all relations with the International Space Station by 2024. Was it something NASA said about that pesky leak on the Russian side it took them over a year to find?

“We have agreed with our ISS partners the term of operation at the station – 2024. After this period, the decision will be made based on the technical condition of the station modules, which have mostly expired their service life, as well as our plans to deploy a new generations. When we make a decision, then we will start negotiations with our partners on the conditions and forms of interaction after 2024.”

After Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov appeared on the Sunday program “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin” and spilled the beans, Roscosmos quickly issued a press release confirming it. Interfax.ru added that this contradicts Vladimir Soloviev, Flight Director of the ISS Russian Segment, who said in early April that the life of the ISS could be extended until the 2030s and beyond, and Russia would be there for the duration. That is NASA’s plan as well — the Leading Human Spaceflight Act to extend operations of the ISS to 2030 was confirmed by Congress in December 2018.


The Roscosmos announcement also confirms that Russia is not abandoning the idea of a permanent space base – it plans to build its own. The new Russian National Orbital Service Station (ROSS) was announced a week ago and early estimates put its cost at $6 billion. That seems highly optimistic – the estimated total cost for the ISS is $150 billion – and it’s also disappointing to China’s space program, which was hoping Russia would provide cooperation for its own space station that is expected to be operational by 2022. That could still happen, possiblly while Russia  builds its own station.

This announcement comes as Russia celebrates the 60th anniversary of the launch that made Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the first human in space, NASA astronauts made their last trip in a Russian space capsule as SpaceX takes over taxiing to the ISS, and Russia announced its plans to send a lander to the Moon for the first time since 1976. This latest announcement is probably just another step in Russia’s plan to return to space dominance in a race that has grown from two to a very crowded field. It remains to be seen if Roscosmos can catch up on its own. If the recent problems on the Russian side of the ISS are any indication, it has a lot to improve upon.

Я думал, ты принес изоленту! (I thought you brought the duct tape!)

What would Neil Sedaka say?

Do do do
Down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Breaking up is hard to do

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” by Neil Sedaka

“Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down”? Is that a message to Russia to come down to Earth and come to your senses? Good luck with that, Neil.

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