The International Space Station (ISS) could suffer irreversible damage due to the age of the equipment and the hardware with which it works, a Russian official has warned.
The ex-cosmonaut Vladimir Solovyov told state media that at least less 80% of the flight systems of the Russian segment of the ISS are with the expiration date.
And that’s not all. Solovyov, who serves as the flight program chief, said they have also been identified small cracks that could get worse over time.
The station was built in 1998 as part of a joint project between Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan and several European countries, and was originally designed for a 15-year shelf life. 23 have passed.
“Literally a day after the systems (in flight) are completely depleted, irreparable failures can begin,” said Solovyov, chief engineer of the space company Energia, which is the main promoter of the Russian section on the ISS.
Since last year he has warned that much of the station’s equipment is aging and will soon have to be replaced.
Furthermore, the former cosmonaut also revealed that they have been discovered “surface” cracks in the Russian cargo module Zarya, launched in 1998 and one of the oldest at the station that now serves as a storage room.
“This is bad and it suggests that the fissures will start to widen over time, ”Solovyov told the RIA news agency.
“We must not let that happen,” he said.
For its part, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said last year that structural fatigue meant the ISS would not be able to function beyond 2030.
In addition, its Zvezda service module, which provides accommodation for the station’s crew members, has also experienced various air leaks since 2019.
In addition to the attrition of the station, the Russian space program has been affected in recent years by a series of budget cutsrivers and corruption scandals.