MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian segment of the International Space Station could live on as a separate facility after the project’s conclusion, the head of the company that oversees the country’s participation said Tuesday.
“By the mid-2020s our American colleagues will have exhausted their technical resources and Russia will have a unique opportunity to use the segment, still to be completed, as an orbiting international port,” RSC Energia’s president Vitalii Lopota said at an annual space conference in Moscow.
Lopota said the long-delayed Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module would only be completed in 2018-2020.
Russian officials have in the past suggested their segment could be detached and operated independently of the ISS as the United States had previously considered leaving the project as early as 2016.
But earlier this month US President Barack Obama vowed to keep the American segment operational until 2024.
Lopota said the Russian segment could still be detached at that time, when its first modules will already be more than 20 years old, to serve as a transit point for international missions headed deeper into space.
The ISS, developed as a joint project between the US and Russia in the 1990s, has been continuously occupied for more than 13 years by astronauts from more than a dozen countries.