MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russia may use future modules of its segment of the International Space Station (ISS) to build its own orbital station, a senior space industry official said on Tuesday.
Russia is planning to launch four new ISS modules – a multirole laboratory module (MLM), a node module and two science-power modules – by 2020, when the time comes to de-orbit the existing international outpost in space.
“If the need arises, we could undock the new modules [from the ISS], starting with the MLM, and they will serve as a foundation for a new generation Russian space station,” Alexander Derechin, deputy chief designer for Russia’s space corporation RKK Energia, told a scientific forum in Moscow.
The launch of the MLM module is tentatively scheduled for the end of 2013, Derechin added.
The current ISS project involves NASA, Roscosmos, the Canadian Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and 11 members of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The participants in the project are discussing the possibility of extending the ISS life until 2028.
The ISS currently has five Russian-built modules: the Zvezda service module, the Zarya cargo block, the Pirs docking module, the Poisk ("Search") research module and Rassvet ("Dawn") research module.
Russia's Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced plans to build a low-orbit space station to support future exploration of the Moon and Mars in 2009.