Possible Russian Separation from International Space Station could be an opportunity for Bigelow Aerospace or VASIMR

The ISS (International Space Station) currently has five Russian-built modules: the Zvezda service module, the Zarya cargo block, the Pirs docking module, the Poisk (“Search”) research module and Rassvet (“Dawn”) research module.” Russia may not be able or want to take all of the existing modules.

[via statement made in 2013 by a Russian official] Russia may use future modules of its segment of the International Space Station (ISS) to build its own orbital station after 2020.

Russia is planning to launch four new ISS modules – a multirole laboratory module (MLM), a node module and two science-power modules – by 2020, when the time comes to de-orbit the existing international outpost in space.

Nauka also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) is the major Russian laboratory module. The docking port that was occupied by the Pirs module is where it was to be added. However, the date has been postponed to February 2017. Prior to the arrival of the Nauka module, a Progress spacecraft was used to remove Pirs from the station, deorbiting it to reenter over the Pacific Ocean. Nauka contains an additional set of life support systems and attitude control. It will weigh 20 tons and has its own engines. The Uzlovoy Module (UM), or Node Module is a 4-ton ball shaped module would support the docking of two scientific and power modules during the final stage of the station assembly and provide the Russian segment additional docking ports to receive Soyuz TMA and Progress M spacecraft.

“If the need arises, we could undock the new modules [from the ISS], starting with the MLM, and they will serve as a foundation for a new generation Russian space station,” Alexander Derechin, deputy chief designer for Russia’s space corporation RKK Energia.

Opportunity for Bigelow Aerospace

Bigelow Aerospace is staffing up now. If relations with Russia deteriorate more then Russia might accelerate plans to undock its modules. Bigelow could be tapped to add more inflatable space station pieces to replace the Russian modules or to form a replacement space station for NASA.

[from Wikipedia] The technical feasibility of a controlled targeted deorbit into a remote ocean was found to be possible only with Russia’s assistance.

[From Wikipedia : International space station end of mission section and other sources]On May 13, 2014, in response to US sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Crimea, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, announced that Russia would reject a U.S. request to prolong the orbiting station’s use beyond 2020, and would only supply rocket engines to the U.S. for non-military satellite launches.

[From Wikipedia : International space station end of mission section] A proposed modification that would allow some of the ISS American and European segments to be reused would be to attach a VASIMR drive module to the vacated Node with its own onboard power source. This would permit the station to be moved to Mars orbit, and serve as a staging post for future colonization. It would however allow long term reliability testing of the concept for less cost than building a dedicated space station from scratch

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