Russian segment of International Space Station facing irreparable failures

Know why the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) is facing ‘irreparable failures’. 

Created On: Sep 3, 2021 13:59 IST
Russian Module Nauka on the ISS, Source: Reuters
Russian Module Nauka on the ISS, Source: Reuters

The Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) is facing ‘irreparable failures’ due to out-of-date hardware. Around 80 per cent of the inflight systems on the segment belonging to Russia on the ISS have reached the end of their service period. This means once the in-flight systems become fully exhausted, irreparable failures will begin, stated Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer of the Energia rocket and space corporation.

Energia, the leading developer of the segment belonging to Russia on the ISS. It manufactures spacecraft and space station components. The International Space Station (ISS) is a joint venture with the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and Europe.

Why Russian segment of ISS facing irreparable failures

Russian officials in August 2021 reported a software glitch and a possible lapse in human attention. In July 2021, the Jet thrusters on the Russian research module Nauka had accidentally reignited a few hours after it had docked to the ISS. This caused the entire orbital outpost to move out of its normal flight position with 7 crew members aboard.

Russia’s space agency ROSCOSMOS has also been reporting several air leaks in the living quarters of the crew members on the ISS due to pressure drops in the Zvezda service module.

Small cracks had also been discovered that could worsen over time, said Vladimir Solovyov. These cracks were discovered on Russia’s Zarya cargo module which was launched in 1998. It is the first module of the ISS.

In 2020, Solovyov had warned that much of the equipment belonging to the Russian segment on the ISS was starting to age and would soon be required to be replaced.

ROSCOSMOS, Russia’s space agency is scheduled to launch a mission to the surface of the Moon in May 2022. The agency has endorsed to continue operations on the ISS till 2025. Thereafter, it plans to launch its own orbital station for ventures such as a mission to Venus, creating a rocket that can make round trips to space, set up a joint lunar station with China.

International Space Station (ISS)

The International Space Station is a modular space station in low Earth orbit. It is a joint venture with the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and Europe. The five participating space agencies from each country are NASA (US), ROSCOSMOS (Russia), CSA (Canada), JAXA (Japan), and ESA (Europe).

The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory. It was launched on November 20, 1998, almost 22 years ago. It is the largest artificial object in space and the largest satellite in low Earth orbit. It circles the Earth in roughly 93 minutes thus completing 15.5 orbits per day.

The ISS is divided into two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) operated by Russia, and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS) operated by the United States.

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