Russia Will Withdraw From the International Space Station


With tensions over the war in Ukraine and economic strains caused by sanctions, Russia announced Tuesday that it will withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024. The head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said the company will instead pursue building its own orbital station.

“We will fulfill all our obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,” Roscosmos’ new chief, Yury Borisov, said, according to the Washington Post. Citing rising costs and aging equipment, Russia has been discussing exiting the station since at least 2021. The previous head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia’s involvement beyond 2024 would be possible only if U.S. sanctions are lifted.

Three Americans and an Italian astronaut arrived at the space station recently, joining three Americans and three Russians and a German already aboard the station. The ISS represented unprecedented cooperation between 15 countries. The first module was launched by Russia in 1998 and the station has been expanded with additional modules since then. NASA has committed to operate the ISS until at least 2030.

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  1. Would need to build some new modules to replace at least Zarya and add some power. In addition they have been using Progress for reboosting, though it has been demonstrated using a Cygnus.

    It could be done, but folks would need to get going pretty soon. My understanding is Rogozin said they would take their modules at the closing date. Don;t know how gentle that process would be.

    My understanding is that NASA has had plans for a while for private stations to replace the ISS function, and they would need to accelerate those. If so, NASA would probably prefer an orbital inclination less than the 53 degrees the ISS is currently on, an awkward inclination that was specifically done because Soyuz would not be able to get to that orbit from Baikonur.

    • clarification, soyuz can only get to the 53 degree inclination from Baikanur. Its awkward for everyone else.

  2. No big surprise. Ever since SpaceX has been sending replacement crew members and supplies to the ISS with its Dragon capsules, the millions of dollars the US and other countries paid Russia to ferry the same with its Soyuz launches has dwindled. Russia’s initial involvement with building the station was partially to support their collapsing space industry when the Soviet Union fell. Even at that, their modules were often behind schedule and fraught with problems. I had to laugh when Borisov said they would be pursuing building their own station. Fat chance in their current economic climate. Maybe they can suck up to the Chinese and get invited to their new station. That’s assuming it is in an orbit they can reach from Baikanur.