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Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex
Computer-generated depiction of OPSEK
Station statistics
Crew2 or more
LaunchAbandoned in 2017
Launch padBaikonur Cosmodrome
MassOver 100,000 kg when complete
Atmospheric pressure1 atm
Periapsis altitude370 to 450 km (planned)
Apoapsis altitude370 to 450 km
Orbital inclination70.0°
Typical orbit altitude370 to 450 km

The Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex (Russian: Орбитальный Пилотируемый Сборочно-Экспериментальный Комплекс, Orbital'nyj Pilotirujemyj Sborochno-Eksperimental'nyj Kompleks)[1][2] (ОПСЭК, OPSEK) was a 2009–2017 Russian proposed third-generation modular space station for low Earth orbit.

The concept was to use OPSEK to assemble components of crewed interplanetary spacecraft destined for the Moon, Mars, and possibly Saturn. The returning crew could also recover on the station before landing on Earth. Thus, in the concept, OPSEK could form part of a future network of stations supporting crewed exploration of the Solar System.

In early plans, the station was to consist initially of several modules from the Russian Orbital Segment of the International Space Station (ISS). However, in September 2017, the head of Roscosmos Igor Komarov said that the technical feasibility of separating the station to form OPSEK had been studied and there were now "no plans to separate the Russian segment from the ISS... We keep the same position, that we should work on the ISS together with our partners".[3]

In April 2021, Roscosmos officials announced plans to exit from the ISS programme after 2024, stating concerns about the condition of its aging modules. The Russian Orbital Service Station, operated entirely by Roscosmos, would be launched starting in the mid-2020s.[4]

Overview

Around the predicted decommissioning of the International Space Station in the late 2020s, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) developed a concept in 2009 to construct a successor station in low Earth orbit.[1][2]

The 2009 concept considered re-using several ISS modules to form the initial parts of a new station, which were to be subsequently replaced by new modules.[5] On 17 June 2009, Roscosmos officially informed its ISS partner NASA about its intention to "build and prepare for operation the first elements of the orbital assembly and experimental piloted space complex by the end of the ISS life cycle".[5] As of 2017, those plans had been abandoned, and the new station was to be composed entirely of new purpose-built modules.[3]

According to the Russian crewed spaceflight contractor RKK Energia, the proposed station would have needed to perform the following tasks:[6]

Structure

Annotated image of the International Space Station's Russian Orbital Segment configuration as of 2011
Annotated image of the International Space Station's Russian Orbital Segment configuration as of 2011

OPSEK was to have followed the Salyut and Almaz series, Kosmos 557, and Mir as the 12th Russian space station launched. OPSEK is a third generation [7] modular space station.[8]

Examples of other modular stations include the former Soviet/Russian Mir, the International Space Station, and the Chinese Tiangong space station. The first space station, Salyut 1, and other one-piece or "monolithic" first generation space stations, such as Salyut 2, 3, 4, 5, DOS-2, Kosmos 557, Almaz, and NASA's Skylab station, were not designed for re-supply.[9] Generally, each crew had to depart the station to free the only docking port for the next crew to arrive. Skylab had more than one docking port but was not designed for resupply. Salyut 6 and 7 had more than one docking port and were designed to be resupplied routinely during crewed operation.[10] Modular stations can allow the mission to be changed over time and new modules can be added or removed from the existing structure, allowing greater flexibility.

Modules

Rassvet, left of center with the Russian science airlock temporarily stored on its side.
Rassvet, left of center with the Russian science airlock temporarily stored on its side.
Computer generated image of the Russian Orbital Segment after Nauka docking
Computer generated image of the Russian Orbital Segment after Nauka docking

Expected Russian Orbital Segment modules around the time of OPSEK separation (2020 or later) arranged by launch dates:[11]

ROS modules not utilized in OPSEK

Russian Orbital Segment modules scheduled for de-orbiting:

Russian Orbital Segment modules that were neither scheduled for de-orbit nor included in the OPSEK proposals:

References

  1. ^ a b "Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex, OPSEK". RussianSpaceWeb.com. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Russia "to save its ISS modules"". BBC. 22 May 2009. Archived from the original on 25 May 2018. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  3. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (25 September 2017). "International partners in no rush regarding future of ISS". SpaceNews. Retrieved 28 December 2018. Komarov: We have no plans to separate the Russian segment from the ISS... We keep the same position, that we should work on the ISS together with our partners.
  4. ^ "Roscosmos chief expects 1st module of national orbital station to be launched in late 2025". TASS. 23 April 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b Zak, Anataloy (3 July 2009). "Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex". Russianspaceweb.com. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  6. ^ "Russia could build orbital assembly complex after 2020 - Energia Corporation". Interfax. 18 August 2009. Archived from the original on 18 August 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  7. ^ "DLR - International Space Station ISS - From Cold War to international cooperation - the story of the ISS". Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Third Generation Soviet Space Systems". Archived from the original on 18 June 2012.
  9. ^ "A History of U.S. Space Stations" (PDF). NASA Facts. NASA. June 1997. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 18 November 2020. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ Sabbagh, Karl (14 December 1999). "Space Station - The Station - Russian Space History". PBS - Houston Public Television. Archived from the original on 22 July 2017. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  11. ^ Zak, Anatoly (1 January 2009). "The Russian Segment of the International Space Station". RussianSpaceWeb. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex". Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 4 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Pirs Docking Compartment". NASA. 10 May 2006. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2009. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  14. ^ "Роскосмос сообщил НАСА, что модуль МЛМ не войдет в состав МКС в 2014 г". РИА Новости. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  15. ^ "ERA: European Robotic Arm". ESA. 16 January 2009. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
  16. ^ S.P. Korolev RSC Energia – News Archived 2 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine Energia.ru (2011-01-13) Retrieved on 8 October 2011
  17. ^ Zak, Anatoly (8 October 2011). "Prichal Node Module". Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  18. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "UM (Prichal, NM, Progress-M-UM)". Gunter's Space Page. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2016.
  19. ^ Zak, Anatoly. "Russia works on a new-generation station module". russianspaceweb.com. Anatoly Zak. Archived from the original on 8 April 2016. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Zarya". NASA. Archived from the original on 24 January 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2012. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  21. ^ "NASA - ISS Assembly Mission ULF4". Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2012. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.