The strength of the crew on board the ISS may actually go down to less than half a dozen astronauts thanks in no small part to Russia.
Way back in 2009, due to space shuttle missions to repair parts of the ISS, the crew strength rose to a total number of six. Ever since that day, the crew strength has remained pretty much the same.
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Russia provides half the crew and the other three come from NASA and its partners. However, in an unprecedented move, Russia announced recently that it is downsizing its crew strength aboard the ISS from three to two, according to Arstechnica.
The director of Roscosmos spoke of how this was a decision taken with much forethought. It was being undertaken to reduce the costs incurred by the Russian state for the upkeep of the ISS.
This move will allow Russia the leniency of not flying its Progress cargo ships. These normally supply food and equipment to the Russian side of the ISS. The ironic thing is that Roscosmos is already spending so little on its crew than NASA does on its own.
From now till 2025, Roscosmos plans on spending $4.1 billion for station maintenance. That is slightly more than NASA’s yearly budget for the upkeep of its side of the ISS.
NASA reported awhile back that Roscosmos plans to drop a crew member to lessen the economic load on the state coffers. The Russian decision has led to speculation regarding the future of the ISS and similar space missions of exploration.
NASA is already making some calculations regarding its own crew members aboard the ISS. Many scenarios are being entertained by NASA. How to fill the missing slot is what this is all about.
Way back at the turn of the millennium, the crew aboard the ISS were just three in number. We have progressed a long way since those nascent days of the ISS.
What Russia plans on doing in the future is something which no one really knows about. While NASA and its partner agencies from Europe and Japan have affirmed their commitment regarding sending crew to the ISS, Russia has been wavering in recent times.
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Whatever the case, the post-Cold War partnership of Russia and the United States with regard to space exploration is going steady and not likely to break down anytime soon.