Here are some of the main points in this must-read article about the future of the Russian Space program. They truly sound light years ahead of the rest of the world.
- De-dock the Russian portion of the International Space Station and use that piece as the cornerstone of a new Russian space station as the ISS’s lifespan goes no further than 2020.
- Build the components of the new station with the understanding that each component has a lifespan and can and should be replaced. However, this does not mean the entire station should be destroyed. Rather, the parts should be constantly renewed.
- Without the Russian portion of ISS, there is nothing physical keeping the ISS in space. Uh oh, that could get ugly.
And the rest sounds like pure science fiction. And very exciting. I highly recommend reading the article. Via the BBC.
With the first launch of the new Russian spacecraft optimistically set for 2018, it would probably reach the launch pad by the time Nasa ends its support for the ISS.
Unlike the ISS, which was advertised primarily as a platform for scientific research, Russia’s future space station, dubbed the Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex (OPSEK), would have the main goal of supporting deep space exploration.
Behind the scenes, Russian engineers have drawn up ambitious plans for orbital stations around the Earth and the Moon, and eventually in the orbit of Mars. These would be linked by re-usable tugs, shuttling between them continuously to support the sustained exploration of the Solar System.
After separation from rest of the ISS, the station’s 20-tonne service module could eventually be replaced by a 40-tonne living quarters launched by a new family of rockets.
In turn, this module could ultimately serve as a construction site and a base for the Martian expedition complex, which could be assembled in Earth orbit in the mid-2030s to carry the first humans to the Red Planet.