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Russian Space Agency: Chinese spaceship docking with ISS highly improbable

January 13, 2015, 2:22 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, January 12. /TASS/. A possibility of a Chinese spaceship docking with the International Space Station looks highly improbable, as is a possible “visit” by a Russian spacecraft to the Chinese space station, Sergei Savelyev, chief of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily that will be published on Tuesday.

“Even if there is consent from all countries participating in the International Space Station programme, there will be a lot of outstanding technical aspects linked with both adjustment of China’s Shenzhou spacecraft and the use of a higher inclination of the International Space Station’s orbit, which the Chinese are not used to. The Chinese partners are building their own space stations and they have already announced when it will be commissioned - the year 2020,” he said.

When asked about possible docking of a Russian spaceship with the Chinese station, Savelyev said such projects, if any, “are not taken seriously.”

“We should bear in mind that any country which possesses space potential has its own plans and ambitions in space exploration. There is a considerable gap in the level of technology development. As concerns China, the plan is to fill the Russian-Chinese space cooperation programme with bigger projects, such as exploration of Venus and other planets of the Solar system. Chinese partners show interest in such subjects,” he said.

Earlier, Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko said that there were plans to send Russian cosmonauts to China’s orbiting manned module Tiangong-1 and to welcome Chinese cosmonauts onboard the International Space Station. “As for possible projects in the area of the manned space programme, China demonstrates its interest in such projects,” he said, adding that these matters had been already discussed by experts. “I do not rule out that within the framework of expanding cooperation with China we might look at sending our cosmonauts to the Chinese station, and in perspective welcome Chinese taikonauts in our segment of the International Space Station.”

Apart from that, Savelyev said that Russia’s plans till 2025 did not envisage building of a new space station of its own. “A possibility of creating a new Russian space station does exist in principle. Such project may be implemented in international cooperation, with China for example. But neither the current, nor the draft of a future federal space programme have such provisions. Such project can be linked with the lifecycle of the International Space Station,” he said.

As for cooperation with China, the most probable projects in the immediate future, in his words, are joint experiments onboard the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

“Further plans might include experiments onboard OKA-T orbiting unmanned modules that might be fitted for various inclinations, and equipping our countries’ automated interplanetary stations with research tools of the partner country,” Savelyev noted.

He explained that an OKA-T module was a multipurpose orbiting laboratory to conduct microgravitation and applied technological and biotechnological research. “The lab is to work independently in the orbit occasionally docking to the International Space Station or any other low-orbit station. Servicing research equipment, refueling the lab and other operations will be the competence of cosmonauts,” he noted.

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