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The chief engineer of the Energia Missile and Space Agency says most of the systems on board have reached the end of their service.
A Russian space official on Tuesday expressed concerns about the deteriorating condition of the Russian portion of the International Space Station (ISS) due to outdated hardware, warning it could lead to “irreparable failures”.
In recent years, the Russian segment of the ISS has had a series of problems, including air leaks caused by ruptures, raising questions about the safety of the rotating crews on board.
“About 80 percent of inflight systems in the Russian segment have reached the end of their service life,” Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer of the Energia rocket and space company, told RIA Novosti news agency.
Energia – a manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components – is the leading developer of the Russian part of the ISS, a joint venture with Canada, Japan, the United States and the European Space Agency.
“This means that literally a day after the systems are completely exhausted, irreparable failures can begin,” Solovyov added.
Citing concerns over outdated hardware, Russia had previously indicated that it plans to leave the ISS after 2025 and launch its own orbital station.
On Monday, Solovyov said small cracks had been discovered in Russia’s Zarya cargo module. Launched in 1998, it is one of the oldest modules on the ISS.
The Russian Zvezda service module has since experienced multiple air leaks, including last month and in 2019.
Also in July, the entire ISS flipped out of orbit after the thrusters of a new Russian module re-ignited just hours after docking.
Russia’s space program, inherited from the Soviet Union, has also suffered from austerity and corruption scandals.
Despite these problems, the country’s Roscosmos space agency continues to promise ambitious undertakings, including a mission to Venus and the creation of a rocket capable of circumnavigating into space.
It also plans to set up a joint lunar station with China and will launch a mission to the lunar surface next May.
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