Russia detaches from International Space Station? True or False



Russia has reportedly released a propaganda video that shows Russian cosmonauts disconnecting the Russian ISS modules from the International Space Station.

The video shows the Russian cosmonauts saying goodbye to NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei and then the Russian segment detaches from the rest of the ISS. 

As per media reports, the video is a fake one, a sort of a joke film or could even be a silent threat from Russia amid complete breakdown of relations with the United States and the west. 

Who posted the video?

The video first originated when it was tweeted by a Twitter handle named ‘NASA Watch’. The handle posted the video saying that it was posted on Telegram by Russian government controlled media RIA Novosti. The video has reportedly been made by Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos. 

Russia threatening ISS programme?

The video went viral after the Russian space agency Roscosmos blocked its cooperation with all other major space agencies in retaliation to the sanctions imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine.  

Russian Space Agency Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin recently announced severing of ties on major fronts with NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the German space agency (DLR).

He blamed the Western countries in a recent interview for the collapse of cooperation in space amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis. He said that countries including US, Great Britain, France and Germany destroyed what was created by mankind with such difficulty, what was created by the blood and sweat of those people who mastered space.

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Impact of Russia’s walkout of ISS

  • The Russian ISS modules like Zvezda provide most of the life support systems to the ISS, as it provides living quarters and refueling capability for the station, while the US segment has the Japanese and European laboratories.
  • Russia’s Zvezda module also provides propulsion capabilities to the ISS, acting like a space tug. It has the capability of steering the station away from space junk. 
  • Hence, it is a crucial part of the ISS and separating it could threaten the very existence of the space station.
  • Russia had in fact added a new module to the International Space Station in 2021 to replace the ageing Piers module. The new Nauka multipurpose module serves as a research lab, storage unit and airlock for the Russian segment. 
  • There were concerns earlier that Russia might let the ISS fall to Earth came up late last month after Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin threatened to do so in a series of tweets in response to new US sanctions against Russia, including some aimed at its space program. 
  • Rogozin had threatened then that if the US continued to be “hostile,” Roscosmos would withdraw its support for the space station.

ISS safety a concern?

Like mentioned earlier in the article, Russia controls critical aspects of the space station’s propulsion control systems, which help keep the ISS in its orbit against Earth’s gravitational pull. 

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Without the propulsion module, the ISS would very slowly fall towards the Earth’s atmosphere, where it would mostly burn up but few heavy components may survive the atmosphere and fall to the Earth’s surface, causing vast 
damage. 

However, NASA insists saying that everything is fine. It is important to note that the International Space Station was built with the joint  partnership between Russia and the United States in the last 1990s after the end of the Cold War. 

Russia may itself never want to take the risk of an uncontrolled deorbit of the ISS and just as NASA depends of Roscosmos to keep ISS operational, the Russian space agency also depends on NASA. The two nations have kept their space cooperation going over the past two decades despite deteriorating political relations. 

Current ISS Crew

The International Space Station currently has onboard seven astronauts, including three American astonauts including an Indian-American, two Russian and one of European descent. 

Raja Chari: Indian-origin American 
astronaut

Mark Vande Hei: American astronaut

Thomas Marshburn: American astronaut

Anton Shkaplerov: Russian cosmonaut

Pyotr Dubrov: Russian cosmonaut

Matthias Maurer: European astronaut

Kayla Barron: American astronaut

NASA Astronaut Mark Vande Hei is scheduled to return to the Earth by the end of the month after spending a record-breaking 355 consecutive days on the space station. He is, however, scheduled to return aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Background

Russia is reportedly planning to build its own space station like China in the next five years.





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