Russia plans to withdraw from ISS, hopes to launch own orbital space station in 2025

The Russian space agency said on Tuesday it hopes to launch its own orbital station in 2025 as Moscow plans to withdraw from the International Space Station program to go it alone.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said work has started on the first module of a new station, after officials warned Russia was considering pulling out of the ISS, one of the few successful examples cooperation with the West.

The announcement came with soaring tensions over the espionage allegations, a build-up of Russian troops along Ukraine’s borders and the deteriorating health of President Vladimir Putin’s jailed critic Alexei Navalny.

“The first basic module of the new Russian orbital station is in preparation,” Rogozin said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

He said Russian space company Energia aims to have the module ready for launch in 2025 and posted a video of Energia staff at work.

Launched in 1998 and involving Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency, the ISS is one of the most ambitious international collaborations in human history.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov has said in recent days that Moscow plans to quit the ISS program from 2025 due to the age of the station.

Roscosmos said on Monday that a decision to leave the ISS had not yet been made.

“When we make a decision, we will start negotiations with our partners on the forms and conditions of cooperation beyond 2024,” the space agency told AFP in a statement.

Russia lost its monopoly on manned flights to the ISS last year after the first successful mission by US company SpaceX.

Despite its much lauded history – Russia this month marked the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first person in orbit – the country’s space program has struggled in recent years.

Rogozin has announced a series of ambitious plans in recent years, but his agency has struggled to endure funding cuts, with analysts saying Putin was more interested in military technology than space exploration.

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