Russia Announces Readiness to Propose BRICS Orbital Space Station

On April 22, Yuri Loptev, Head of the Scientific-Technical Council of Russia‘s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) announced that Russia is ready to propose a joint orbital station with its fellow BRICS countries.  The plan is currently being prepared by Russia‘s Military-Industrial Commission and is expected to be submitted during the BRICS summit in July 2015.  This potential new station would be comprised of three units, a laboratory module, a universal docking module and a scientific-power module.  These modules have scheduled launch dates in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively, and are presently earmarked for use on the ISS.  Russia announced that in the event that ISS operations are halted over political disagreements with current ISS partners, (read Washington and Moscow), it could possibly move forward with a BRICS space station as early as 2019.

There have been a number of contradictory statements, however, from Russian officials regarding its future involvement in orbital facilities during the past few months.  On March 28, 2015, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced that it would be collaborating with NASA to construct a new space station to replace the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024.  Two days after this announcement NASA denied that such a decision had been made between the two agencies.  On April 16, 2015, Russian President Putin announced that Russia would be constructing its own space station by 2023.  The ISS is expected to remain operational until 2024, after which time it is unclear if the U.S. and Russia will collaborate on another orbital installation.  The two countries presently do not have concrete plans to do so.