Today’s Tidbits: August 22, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: August 22, 2018

Here are’s tidbits for August 22, 2018: Rogozin invites ISS partners to Russia for 20th ISS anniversary; China makes progress on its new space station; India’s PM touts human spaceflight by 2022.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Rogozin Invites ISS Partners to Russia for 20th Anniversary

Dmitri Rogozin, Director General of Russia’s space state corporation Roscosmos, gave a lengthy interview to Russia’s state news agency TASS last week.  Most of his comments concerned internal Russian space matters — budget, the status of the new Angara and Soyuz-5 launch vehicles, and more management shakeups. (Click the link in the tweet to read the full interview.)

One small part, however, addressed the future of the International Space Station (ISS) and U.S.-Russian human spaceflight cooperation.  Rogozin is known for his bluntness and his overall message was that Russia would insist on being treated as an equal in potential future deep space human exploration.  He pointed out that Russia is building its own heavy lift rocket, Angara, and a new crew spacecraft, Federation, so has a lot of capability itself: “Мы сами с усами,” which literally translates as “we ourselves with a mustache” but idiomatically means “we weren’t born yesterday” according to a Google search.

On a friendlier note, however,  he said that he has invited the ISS partners to come to Moscow in November to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first ISS module, Zvezda.  Rogozin said it is time to talk about the future of ISS and “future steps.” He further reiterated that he plans to meet with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at the launch of the Soyuz MS-10 crew in October.

NASA told us last week it could not confirm Bridenstine’s plans for the Soyuz MS-10 launch.  A NASA spokeswoman said basically the same thing today about November in Moscow: “We anticipate several activities related to the 20th anniversary of the first station elements, but those plans are in work.”

China Makes Progress on Its New Space Station

China continues to make progress towards building its own modular space station.  The China Space Station (CSS) will have three modules with a total mass of 60 metric tons (MT).  That’s much smaller than ISS, which has a mass of about 400 MT, but significantly larger than China’s first two Tiangong space stations (8.6 MT each).   China hopes to have CSS fully assembled by 2022, although it requires the Long March 5 rocket, which failed on its second launch last year.  A return-to-flight attempt is expected later this year.

Meanwhile, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported last week that tests of the propulsion system for the experiment module have been completed and tweeted a useful illustration of the CSS fully assembled. (Click the link in the tweet to read the story.)

India’s Prime Minister Promises Human Spaceflight by 2022

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. Credit: Modi’s LinkedIn page.

Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister, optimistically asserted last week that India will launch a human into space by the country’s 75th anniversary of independence in 2022.  As reported by the Times of India [], in his August 15 Independence Day speech, Modi said “”When India celebrates 75th year of Independence in 2022, and if possible even before, an Indian son or daughter will undertake a manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’ carrying the national flag.”

As the Times article points out, that will be quite a challenge.  It quotes K. Sivan, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as saying that no decision has yet been made even on what launch vehicle would be used: “It is our imagination, our dream that it should happen. But right now we are only in the preparations stage where we are demonstrating critical technologies, there’s a lot to do.”

Whoever flies on that mission will not be the first Indian citizen in space, however. Rakesh Sharma holds that distinction. He flew on the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 mission in 1984.  Kalpana Chawla, a NASA astronaut who perished in the 2003 space shuttle Columbia tragedy, was born and raised in India, but became a naturalized U.S. citizen before joining the NASA astronaut corps.

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