The International Space Station could be in orbit without Russia – Science Times

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War harms science and humanity

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is destroying a lot of science. Although space is currently one of the only places where Russian scientists continue to collaborate with other international researchers, the war of human selfishness is having a devastating effect on the science that will be done for humans in the future.

A typical example is the conflict between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS). The European Space Agency has already excluded cooperation with Russia from the second Exomas mission and the lunar mission (see related article: Related Article 1, Related Article 2, Related Article 3), and several western countries have also contributed to Russia’s numerous economic opportunities. At the same time as sanctions were imposed, it began to provide military aid to Ukraine. The Russian Space Agency strongly opposed this and threatened Europe and the United States. Specifically, in the scientific field, Russia has warned that Russian activities will be excluded from the International Space Station (ISS).

Image of ExoMars’ second mission Mars lander © ESA

Putin warns Russia could withdraw from International Space Station by 2025

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia could withdraw from the International Space Station by 2025, while Russian Space Director Dmitry Rogozin warned that if Russia were to leave the International Space Station, the International Space Station would be dislodged and eventually crash to Earth. have done

For reference, the International Space Station has been built and operated jointly by the United States and Russia. Weighing over 444 tons and still growing in size, the International Space Station orbits the Earth at an altitude of about 418 km about every 93 minutes. This track is not safe. This is because atmospheric drag is decreasing altitude by about 2 km per month. Therefore, periodically, the International Space Station must be lifted into higher orbit. (re-boost or boost: called re-boost, boost)

The United States is in charge of the operation of the International Space Station’s power supply and life support systems. On the other hand, Russia uses the Progress spacecraft to provide thrust so that the International Space Station can stay in orbit and periodically adjusts its orbit. Therefore, if Russia’s activities are excluded, the International Space Station will not be able to stay in orbit, which could pose a great danger to Earth.

International Space Station (ISS) © NASA

Cygnus cargo ship reveals ISS orbital control possible without Russian assistance

As such, the fate of the International Space Station now depends on international diplomacy. Therefore, the US and Europe were unable to make a tougher decision and put their decision on hold for a while. But at the end of June, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft gained the ability to control the International Space Station’s orbit without Russian cooperation, bringing good news to scientists in the US and Europe.

Cygnus cargo ship at Northrop Grumman © NASA

Northrop Grumman has been working to provide boost capabilities through an upgraded Cygnus cargo ship docked at the International Space Station since February. Cygnus finished the first test in just 5 seconds on June 20, but boosted for 5 minutes and 1 second on June 25, raising the altitude of the International Space Station about 161 m higher and at near point (the closest distance from Earth). It succeeded in moving it to a higher orbit 805 m. The upgraded Cygnus cargo ship can deliver the same output power as its predecessor, but has a lighter solar power system to accommodate heavier objects.

Cygnus cargo ship at Northrop Grumman © NASA

Steve Krein, vice president of civil, commercial space and tactical space systems at Northrop Grumman, said boosting the ISS with Cygnus will help maintain and support the ISS normally, thereby enabling Cygnus’ future space exploration efforts. explained that it can be glimpsed.

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