Roscomos head Anatoly Perminov held a traditional pre-launch tea party for the ISS-24 expedition crew. He met with the prime crew of Fyodor Yurchikhin (Roscosmos), Shannon Walker (NASA), Douglas Wheelock (NASA), as well as backup crew members Dmitry Kondratiev (Roscosmos), Paolo Nespoli (ESA), Ð¡atherine Coleman (NASA).
According to the report from Roscosmos, Perminov revealed that Russia and its international partners are discussing the future use of ISS to support trips beyond low Earth orbit:
Perminov shared his impressions about the recent visit to ILA-2010 in Berlin and Russian exhibition in Paris.
He stated that an issue about future ISS operations had been discussed in Berlin. In particular, there was a proposal to develop an ISS-based platform where cosmonauts and astronaut could assemble a space vehicle of several modules to be flown to the Moon or Mars.
â€œWe wonâ€™t need heavy launchers in this case, no need to get concerned too much about the propulsionâ€¦ This program seems to be very interesting for the other states, as well. It was supported by ESAâ€™s DG and European Commission,” Perminov said. “I would be happy to know your opinion about this program after the space mission is completed.”
Soyuz TMA-19 commander Fiodor Yurchkhin shared his view of the ISS operations after 2020: “The station shall become more complex. So, we have to recognize it, and understand its objectives in LEO.”
“We see the station of the next generation as an assembly experimental facility,” Roscosmos Human Spaceflight Directorate Alexey Krasnov stated. “We would prefer achieving it with the partners. On the other hand, we are ready to commence this research effort alone. The first step is development of a space vehicle, which may be rather small, but capable of flying away and coming back to the station.”
“It would be interesting also if cosmonauts assemble it,” Roscosmos Head Perminov added.
The crew liked the idea. Yurchikhin proposed to use a cargo vehicle for this purpose. He also reminded that: “a returned vehicle can be built on the basis of a transport one.”
Krasnov returned to the current status in the industry. “It is important now to evolve our production capacity, since we have to produce 5-6 vehicles a year to maintain ISS cargo supply and crew transport functions, in addition to four Soyuzes,” he said.
Anatoly Perminov suggested thinking over these tasks together.
Roscosmos Head noted that there were many talks about closing the human space programs, due to their expensiveness.
“Itâ€™s a dangerous tendency. If you interrupt a human space flight program for a while, even a year, the experts will be gone, cosmonauts corps will disappearâ€¦ Thus, restarting it would cost much more. We have to go on with our efforts, to get brand new ideas here.”