Two of the largest nations that have presence on the International Space Station at all times are Russia and the United States. Both space agencies try to learn more about the effects of space on not only the objects around us, but on the human body. Despite all of the benefits, Russia may soon be cutting back on manpower a little bit.
Space is very expensive to study. Sending big rockets full of astronauts and supplies into space every so often requires a lot of expensive fuel and equipment. That cost comes with a large burden that is often hard to keep up with.
Coping with these burdens, space agencies may limit what they do by cutting costs and making studies as financially efficient as possible. Recent Russian news reports have suggested that Roscosmos may be looking to send just two cosmonauts to the International Space Station in future missions, rather than three, to help with this.
NASA further supported the idea in a statement released earlier this month when they said, “Any questions about the near-term Russian Space budget or Russian ISS expedition size should be directed to the Roscosmos press office. Roscosmos has joined NASA and other International Space Station partners in extending support for the orbiting laboratory to at least 2024, and the current level of research of both NASA and the international partners on ISS is at an all-time high.”
For what it’s worth, Roscosmos gets about 10% of the funding that NASA does on an annual basis, and still, they have been providing a good number of manpower with every mission to help maintain the station, as well as perform experiments.
Both the United States and Russia are expected to support the International Space Station until at least 2024. The United States has been open to the idea of using it well beyond that expiration date, but the shrinking crew size on Russia’s behalf suggests that not only is the country having financial issues with the space station, but it may also want to go in another direction when 2024 comes around.
The new docking mechanism that was recently attached to the International Space Station and is intended to fit Boeing and SpaceX capsules certainly breathes new life into the International Space Station for the United States, but not so much for Russia. After all, the United States is looking to fire more rockets from our own soil so we have less dependence on Russia for future missions.
There is some speculation that Roscosmos may be interested in building its own space station, and by reducing costs for the International Space Station, more energy and money can be put into that endeavor.
Although Roscosmos hasn’t officially confirmed to the public that they will be reducing their mainpower from three to two for future International Space Station missions, this speculation from NASA and local news sources illustrates the narrowing lens of the future for the space station as we know it.