In a landmark decision, Russian space agency Roscosmos and its US counterpart NASA have agreed to build a new space station after the current International Space Station (ISS) expires. The operation of the ISS was prolonged until 2024.
“We have agreed that Roscosmos and NASA will be working together on the program of a future space station,” Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov said during a news conference on Saturday.
The talks were held at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The two agencies will be unifying their standards and systems of manned space programs, according to Komarov. “This is very important to future missions and stations.”
The ISS life cycle was to expire in 2020. “Under the ISS program the door will be open to otherparticipants,” Komarov told reporters.
The next goal for the two agencies is a joint mission to Mars, NASA chief Charles Bolden told journalists.
Roscosmos and NASA are working with each other and other partners on a global roadmap of space exploration, Bolden said. “Our area of cooperation will be Mars. We are discussing how best to use the resources, the finance, we are setting time frames and distributing efforts in order to avoid duplication.”
NASA is currently committed to commercializing space activities. “We are consciously moving away from government financing of low-orbit missions,” Bolden said, adding that sometimes NASA “has been criticized” for that.
At the same time, he stressed that the US has not abandoned its goal of returning to the moon. In the future, NASA is planning “to attract more private developers to our joint exploration projects of the Moon and Mars,”Bolden said.