Problems on the International Space Station may be irreparable

Last Monday (30), we reported here on Digital Look that Russian cosmonauts detected important cracks in the Zarya module of the International Space Station (ISS). At the time, they warned that the cracks could widen over time, but they were still trying to contain them.

Now the situation appears to be a little more tense than they anticipated. According to Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer at Russian space company Energia, while the cracks do not pose serious threats to the crew aboard the Russian side of the ISS, the orbital laboratory is facing very serious problems with the Zarya’s flight systems.


International Space Station in 1998. The Russian-made Zarya module (left), coupled with the US-made module, formed the first phase of the ISS. This is where the most recent cracks found by cosmonauts are located. Image: Everett Collection – Shutterstock

According to Solovyov, in an interview with the Russian state news agency RIA, at least 80% of the flight systems in the Russian segment of the Zarya module have expired. “Literally, the day after flight systems are completely exhausted, irreparable failures can begin,” he warned.

In April, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov had also warned about the conditions of the ISS. In an interview with state TV, Borisov said that the station’s structural aging could “lead to irreversible consequences.” “We must not allow this to happen,” he said at the time.

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Russia has already warned that it may leave the International Space Station

In June, Russia threatened to withdraw from the ISS program in 2025 if the US did not lift sanctions against the country’s space sector. The statement was given by the director general of Roscosmos, Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin.

Since then, according to the Futurism website, suspicions have been raised that the country is looking for signs of wear and tear as an excuse to leave the ISS ahead of time.

Roscosmos has threatened to back out of its partnership with ISS member countries several times, and has already announced that it intends to build its own independent space station.

The space station, which exceeded five years in duration of original expectations and will be retired in the coming years anyway. But the aggravation of damage resulting from the long operating journey complicates the situation of the orbital laboratory – and it would be regrettable news if Russia decided to abandon the project leaving the space station in poor condition.

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