Russia aiming for ISS spaceport

by Chris Bergin

Energia head Nikolai Sevastyanov wants the International Space Station (ISS) to become an international spaceport – while increasing the number of people crew on board to six next year.

Sevastyanov’s plans are based around the debut of the ESA (European Space Agency) Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) in 2007 and the Japanese H-II (HTV) transfer vehicle in 2009.
The ATV will have three times the capacity of the Russian Progress vehicle (increasing capacity of re-supplies to nine metric tons), but has been delayed several times due to software and engineering integration issues.

Supporting the increase in crew will be the launch of four manned Soyuz launches and two Progress re-supply missions in 2007, as Russia supports the handover of ISS supply missions to the ATV.

‘The launch of Europe’s ATV [Automated Transfer Vehicle] has been scheduled for late 2007,’ said Sevastyanov to the RIA news agency, who also noted the international future of the ISS, omitting mention of the United States, who’s commitment to the ISS was ‘uncertain’.

‘The ISS is evolving into an international spaceport for the Russians, the Europeans and the Japanese.’

Sevastyanov also pointed out the importance of the ISS, with the need for it to become a centerpoint for tasks that can only be carried out in space.

‘There must be maintained a permanent human presence in space, and that’s the principal purpose behind construction of ISS. The space station will address a number of tasks,’ he noted to the Energia official site.

‘Firstly, it will be an international spaceport. Secondly, ISS allows conducting basic research in space. Even today, space helps us to answer many questions ranging from weather forecasts to power issues. Thirdly, on board ISS we can try out many new technologies, which are either too expensive or outright impossible to experiment with on Earth.

‘Besides, using ISS, it is possible to develop long-term manned space missions, the mission to Mars being one example. ISS can become an industrial facility for constructing an orbital transfer system for lunar missions.’

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