Russia to decide on future participation in ISS in May, after space program approval

Russia will decide on its future involvement in the International Space Station (ISS) project in 2020-2024 only in May, although the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) was supposed to provide an answer back in December 2014, national daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

Russia will decide on its future involvement in the International Space Station (ISS) project in 2020-2024 only in May, although the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) was supposed to provide an answer back in December 2014, national daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

The main reason for the delay was that the deadline for submitting the draft federal space program for 2016-2025 to the government was postponed from December until May this year, the paper said, citing a source at the agency.

"There will not be any decisions on the principles of cooperation on the ISS until the government confirms our financing to 2025," the paper quoted the source as saying.

It was reported earlier that Roscosmos estimated the new space program would cost 2.436 trillion rubles, which is almost three times more than the figure for the current program for 2006-2015. Even at the time, agency employees said privately that the Economic Development Ministry and Finance Ministry might demand cuts to the funding requested by Roscosmos, the paper said.

Kommersant also said that the delay in submitting the draft program to the government is due to the fact that revisions are needed. The initial version did not take into account plans that emerged at the end of 2014 for Russia to deploy its own piloted station in 2017-2019.

The multiuse laboratory module developed by the Khrunichev Space Center that was supposed to be incorporated into the Russian segment of the ISS in 2017 is now being considered as one of the main elements of a future national station.

In January-February Roscosmos is supposed to present rationalisations to the government and Kremlin administration for building its own station in orbit, the paper said. If the decision wins political support, Russia will continue work on the ISS only for commercial purposes such as leasing its segment to other countries and sending space tourists into orbit.

NASA officials were not available for comment, the paper said.

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