Andrew, at the start of a week in which the ruble is losing over 10 percent of its value against the dollar each day, and in a year in which it’s lost over 50 percent, now seems a bizarre time for the Russian space agency Roscosmos to announce possible plans to construct its own space station:
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian state space agency Roscosmos is considering building its own space station, RIA news agency quoted its chief as saying on Monday, underlining how international tensions are affecting space cooperation.
Such a project would rival the International Space Station (ISS), an orbiting laboratory that involves 15 nations including Russia and the United States. Moscow has cast doubt on the ISS’s long-term future as ties with Washington plummet over Ukraine.
“I confirm we are considering such an option. This is a possible direction of development,” RIA quoted Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko as saying when asked about whether Russia has plans to develop its own space station.
He said such a space station could become a key part of Russian missions to the Moon.
It is not clear how such a project would be financed as Russia is widely expected to enter recession next year and the economic crisis is aggravated by Western sanctions over Russia’s policy in the Ukraine crisis.
That’s a candidate for understatement of the year. For a country that was already in serious economic trouble before it was on the brink of a full-blown currency crisis, plans for a new interstellar iron curtain may have to go on the backburner.