The Russian space agency is reportedly considering construction of a high-altitude orbital station starting from 2017. This means that Moscow may walk away from the ISS after 2020, when its obligations under the current project are fulfilled.

Kommersant newspaper reported that the manned space exploration program for the period until 2050 implies step-by-step assembly of a new scientific space station, citing its sources in Central Research Institute for Engineering Technology, Roscosmos space agency’s leading space scientific and research enterprise.

The principal difference from the currently operating International Space Station will be the new Russian station’s high-altitude orbit with a 64.8-degree inclination, which would make up to 90 percent of the Russian territory visible from on board, including Arctic shelf seas.

From the ISS, which has an orbit inclination of 51.6 degrees, no more than 5 percent of the Russian territory is currently visible.

Additionally, the new station will be better positioned for manned flights from Russia’s under-construction Vostochny Cosmodrome, which will see the first rocket launch in the end of 2015.

A manned flight from Vostochny to the ISS, were it to happen today, would bear a certain risk in case of an emergency cancelation of a mission. In that case the flight trajectory would see the module come down in open sea, whereas for the new station it would fall over land, Kommersant reports.

The Plesetsk Military Cosmodrome in Russia’s north will also become handy for delivery of cargo to the new space station. The use of the old Soviet Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan will continue as usual.

“The initial configuration will consist of a node module mated with multipurpose research module and space laboratory OKA-T,” Kommersant quotes an unnamed source in the Central Research Institute for Engineering Technology… see more

source: RT