Russia is moving ahead with plans to break from the International Space Station (ISS) and launch its own proprietary base in Earth orbit with modules originally intended for the ISS, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Monday.
“The new station will be located geometrically more advantageous, allowing an extended field of view of the Earth’s surface,” an unidentified “space engineering source” told Kommersant, according to Sputnik. “As much as 90 percent of Russia’s territory and the Arctic offshore area will be visible from the station.”
The ISS’s current orbit only allows for a view of about 5 percent of the Russian territory that will be observable in the forthcoming station. It will also serve as a waypoint for Russia spacecraft destined for the moon– one of the project’s primary goals.
The report comes after numerous announcements earlier this year asserting Russia’s independence in space by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos. In response to U.S.-imposed economic sanctions against for Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, Rogozin threatened to stop carrying NASA astronauts to the ISS on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and to stop selling Russian-made rocket engines to the U.S. government and contractors. (RELATED: Russia Suggests US Astronauts Use Trampolines To Get To ISS After Latest Sanctions)
“The U.S. introduced sanctions against our space industry. God knows, we warned them: we respond to declarations w/ declarations, to actions w/ actions,” Rogozin tweeted in May.
“After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest the U.S. delivers its astronauts to the ISS [International Space Station] with a trampoline,” the deputy PM added later.
Rogozin also reportedly said Russia would pull out of the ISS by 2020, and Monday’s report puts Russia’s initial deployment of its own station as early as 2017. Officials are reportedly uncertain of the project’s cost, but said the use of modules initially designed for the ISS would help offset the expense.