What’s Going on With Russia’s Space Program?
14 April 2022
The head of Russia’s space agency warned on Thursday (February 24) that further sanctions against his country could jeopardize the International Space Station program. Last month, 450 kilometers above Earth, something that long-time observers of the space program assumed would never happen: Russia’s 20-ton Nauka (“Science”) module successfully mated to the International Space Station. It was the first time the station’s Russian component had been expanded in over a decade. All of the other ISS partners’ facilities were constructed years ago.
What is NAuka
Nauka is a laboratory that includes a workshop, a glovebox for experiments, attachment points for external payloads, an airlock, and a European-built robotic arm that will allow cosmonauts to install equipment outside the station the first time on the Russian segment. The cosmonauts will also have more sleeping space and a new toilet connected to a sophisticated water-recycling system.
- It’s unclear what will happen to the 36 One Web satellites still aboard the Soyuz rocket or what boosters will be utilized for future launches if the standoff continues. However, suppose the cancellation of Soyuz flights remains in effect. In that case, it will be a big blow for a corporation that restructured after bankruptcy and attracted significant investment originating in the United Kingdom.
- Along with threatening One Web, Rogozin and Roscosmos have halted commercial Soyuz launches at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) launch complex. Arianespace launch pad in Kourou, just a week after suggesting that the Europeans launch piloted Soyuz missions from there.
Launch European space agency
“Now that the Soyuz flights have been canceled, the European Space Agency will be able Rogozin tweeted that Russia would “launch European satellites on its rockets… when they have them.”
- The Russians have also announced the RD-180 engines. That power United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rockets would no longer be serviced, and no additional RD-181 engines will be sold in Northrop Grumman’s Antares space station supply rocket. The Antares rocket’s first stage is manufactured in Ukraine, while the engines are manufactured in Russia.
- The gear for Northrop Grumman’s current NASA contract’s final two missions is already in the country., according to company executives, and those flights are likely to go as scheduled. Northrop Grumman may be forced to look for another launch provider after that. The corporation has yet to respond.
But, according to Rogozin, “Without the supervision of our professionals,” the Atlas 5 will eventually be used to launch NASA astronauts aboard Boeing Starliner spacecraft. “Let us wish our American friends the best!”