The functioning of the ISS after sanctions

Contact Counsellor

The functioning of the ISS after sanctions

  • After Russia invaded Ukraine the U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia including a ban on transfer of technology and on Russian banks.


  • Russian space agency Roscosmos informed that the State Corporation will not cooperate with Germany on joint experiments in the Russian segment of the International Space Station.
  • Roscosmos will conduct them independently.
  • The Russian space programme against the backdrop of sanctions will be adjusted and the priority will be creation of satellites in the interests of defense.
  • Roscosmos will not service the remaining 24 R-180 engines in the US, and stop supplying the R-181.
  • Sanctions could disrupt the functioning of the Russian spacecraft that serviced the International Space Station.
  • This could lead to the Russian segment of the ISS, which helps in correcting the orbit of the ISS being affected.
  • This meant that ISS could fall into the sea or on land.
  • Russian segment ensures that the space station’s orbit is corrected to keep it away from space debris, roughly 11 times a year.

What is Russia’s role in maintaining the ISS?

  • Russia’s part in the collaboration is the module responsible for making course corrections to the orbit of the ISS.
  • They also ferry astronauts to the ISS from the Earth and back.
  • Until SpaceX’s dragon spacecraft came into the picture the Russian spacecrafts were the only way of reaching the ISS and returning.

Why does the orbit of the ISS need to be corrected?

  • Due to enormous weight and the ensuing drag, the ISS tends to sink from its orbit at a height of about 250 miles above the Earth.
  • It has to be pushed up to its original line of motion every now and then.
  • This is rather routine, even for smaller satellites.
  • Approximately once a month this effort has to be made.
  • It is not necessarily a regular operation, and may be missed once and compensated for later.
  • The other reason for altering the path of the ISS is to avoid its collision with space debris, which can damage the station.
  • These maneuvers need to be done as and when the debris is encountered.

If Russia should back out of the effort, are there spacecrafts that can substitute?

  • SpaceX’s dragon module and Boeing’s Starliner can dock with the ISS.
  • Starliner also has the capacity to carry, say, ten tonnes of fuel.

What is the likelihood of Russia backing out?

  • Though there have been previous occasions when conflicts have risen between Russia and the U.S., the operation of the ISS has not been interrupted.
  • There are two missions planned for March 18, and one astronaut is already there on site.
  • The mission means to take up two Russians and an American astronaut, and the preparatory work is in progress.
  • On March 30, it is planned that the mission will return an American astronaut to Earth from the ISS.
  • These seem to be going on as per plan.

Is it true that Russia does not have the risk of the ISS crashing down on their country?

  • The orbit of the ISS does not fly over Russian territory mostly.
  • Places that are closer to the equator run a greater risk of it falling in their domain.
  • The orbit is at about 50 degrees and so most probably, the ISS will fall in that level.
  • But this is only a probability, as it can move or disintegrate.
  • But in case of this eventuality, people in the ISS will be brought back, modules can be detached thereby making it much smaller which will ensure that it disintegrates before touching the earth.