Russia will end its participation in the International Space Station after it reaches the end of its planned lifespan in 2024, a senior official has confirmed. Moscow is already working on a new station to replace the current one.
Moscow will “notify [partnering countries] about its withdrawal from the ISS starting from 2025,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told TV channel Rossiya-1 on Sunday. He added that the country would hold consultations with other nations about future cooperation once the station ceased to function.
The deputy prime minister’s office told the TASS news agency that “reports of malfunctions have become more frequent in recent times,” and an inspection of the ISS is required to avoid possible emergencies.
Astronauts have struggled to fix air leaks, due to cracks appearing in some of the modules. Vladimir Solovyev, the deputy head of Energia, which led the development of the ISS on Russia’s behalf, said in November that several elements of the station had been damaged beyond replacement and would be shut down after 2025. Energia is currently working on the Russia Orbital Space Station that is set to replace the ISS.
The first element of the ISS was launched in 1998. The station’s lifespan was eventually extended to 2020 and later to 2024.
The head of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, said last year that after the ISS stops functioning, Progress cargo spacecraft will pull it from orbit. The ISS will then descend into the ocean the same way Russia’s Mir space station did back in 2001.