Roscosmos in Orbit. Bob Zimmerman,

Jun 29, 2016, 05:43 AM

(Photo: Composite of images showing the Russian Segment during the EVA ) Twitter: @BatchelorShow

Roscosmos in Orbit. Bob Zimmerman,

A Russian space station spun off from ISS? June 27, 2016 at 10:06 pm Robert Zimmerman The competition heats up: Energia, Russia’s main contractor for building its part of ISS, has proposed a plan to separate the Russian modules from ISS, once they are finally launched, to create a new and solely Russian space station. According to RKK Energia, the prime Russian contractor on the ISS, the new outpost would begin with the separation of the Nauka [Russia’s ISS science module, long delayed] from the rest of the old station in mid-2020s. By that time, Nauka should have two even newer modules in tow. One would be the so-called Node Module, a tinker-toy-like component that could connect to six other modules, crew ships, cargo tankers, structural elements, you name it. The Node Module is already in RKK Energia’s garage and ready to go within a few months after the Nauka.

Next would be the new Science and Power Module (NEM) which, as it name implies, will finally give cosmonauts a state-of-the-art science lab and a pair of large solar arrays, making the Russian segment fully independent from the rest of the ISS in terms of power, communications, and other resources. The launch of NEM, currently promised as early as 2019, would set the stage for these three components to leave the ISS to form ROS. Russia has always given itself the option to do this, designing its part of the station in a way that would allow it to stand alone.

Russia looks to reduce Proton launch costs June 24, 2016 at 10:36 am Robert Zimmerman The competition heats up: Russian officials are considering developing a new variant of the Proton rocket that would cost less to launch and thus make the rocket more desirable in the increasingly competitive launch market. They have not made a decision yet. As the article notes, [G]iven the extended length of time required for even less radical upgrades of Proton and the official Russian strategy to phase out the vehicle in favor of Angara-5, it is unclear whether it would be possible to justify the Proton-Light development effort. A number of previous proposals to change the shape and size of the Proton-M rocket were deemed too expensive more than a decade earlier in the rocket’s operational career.