A Russian official has warned that the International Space Station (ISS) could suffer irreversible damage due to the age of the equipment and devices on which it operates.
Former cosmonaut Vladimir Solovyov told state media that at least 80% of the flight systems of the Russian part of the International Space Station have expired.
And that’s not all. Solovyov, who is head of the flight program, said small cracks had been identified that could worsen over time.
This is not the first time Russia has raised concerns about the plant’s deterioration. He even suggested leaving the International Space Station after 2025.
The station was built in 1998 as part of a joint project between Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan and several European countries, and was originally designed for a service life of 15 years. 23 has passed.
“Literally one day after the systems (in flight) are completely exhausted, irreparable malfunctions can begin,” said Solovyov, chief engineer of the space company Energia, the main promoter of the Russian division of the International Space Station.
Since last year he has warned that a lot of the station’s equipment is getting old and will have to be replaced soon.
In addition, the former cosmonaut also revealed that “superficial” cracks were detected in the Russian Zarya cargo unit, which was launched in 1998 and one of the oldest in the station that now serves as a storage room.
“This is bad and indicates that the cracks will begin to widen with time,” Solovyov told the RIA news agency.
Already in April, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told state television that the obsolescence of the plant’s metal could “lead to irreversible consequences, to a catastrophe.”
“We must not let that happen,” he said.
For its part, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said last year that structural stress means the International Space Station will not be able to operate after 2030.
Less than two months ago, a malfunction caused Nauka’s prototype search engines to launch without warning, destabilizing the International Space Station.
In addition, the Zvezda service unit, which provides accommodation for station crew members, has experienced several air leaks since 2019.
To make matters worse at the station, the Russian space program has in recent years been hit by a series of budget cuts and corruption scandals.
However, despite these setbacks, the country’s space agency has promised a series of ambitious projects, such as a mission to Venus, the creation of a rocket capable of traveling in and out of space and a mission to the moon’s surface next year.