ISS: Former NASA astronaut responds to Russian threats

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The Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, which is part of Roscosmos, has revealed a model for the upcoming Russian Orbital Space Station (ROSS). This was the ambitious space project that was announced by Moscow alongside their intentions to withdraw from the International Space Station “after 2024”. The space agency head Yuri Borisov noted that Roscosmos would fulfil all its obligations towards its partners in space, which includes NASA, and proceed to leave the orbital lab.

At a military forum, Russia offered a first look at the ROSS, which shows the layout of the second stage, and even had an orbital spacecraft known as Oryal docked into the lab.

According to TASS, the model assumed that the base, scientific and energy, nodal and gateway modules, along with targeting and production modules were already in orbit.

Russia’s announcement of pulling out from the ISS was the culmination of months of tension, after Dmitry Rogozin, the former head of Roscosmos threatened the abandon the ISS and crash it into the Earth.

Russian-made modules constitute a critical part of the 400-tonne space station, as Roscosmos operates six of the 17 modules of the orbital lab– including Zvezda, which houses the main engine system.

Space policy experts previously warned that Moscow has “full control and legal authority” over the modules, without which the station may not function.

After announcing that Roscosmos would pull out sometime after 2024, they walked back on their statement, telling NASA that they would like to stay onboard until the ROSS is built, which would be 2028 at the earliest.

However, speaking to Express.co.uk, Wendy Whitman-Cobb, Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at Air University dismissed these statements, noting that the delays in building the ROSS could lead to the Russian cosmonauts staying on the ISS for longer.

She said: “I have a hard time believing they’ll be able to design, build, and deploy a space station in that time frame only because it’s very difficult and their military industry seems to be focused on other things at the moment.

“I do think it’s possible that they stick with the ISS for as long as they don’t have their own viable option.”

In March, Mr Rogozin reacted furiously to western sanctions on Russia, even threatening to crash the space station.

In a series of tweets, he said: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?

“There is also the option of dropping the 500-ton structure to India and China.

“Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect?

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“The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?”

However, Prof Whitman Cobb rejected these threats and said: “If Russia were to pull out and NASA and the rest of the partners were unable to find some way to work around that, I imagine they would go ahead with a controlled reentry as has been the plan all along.

“The ISS partners have planned a controlled re-entry all along.”

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