Relations on Earth between Russia and the West are strained at the moment, with the country mired in controversy over the health status of dissident Alexei Navalny and the buildup of Russian forces at the Ukraine border. Now, there could soon be a distancing in outer space, too: The head of Russia's space agency has announced that it may ditch the International Space Station in 2025, then launch its own space station by 2030, reports Reuters. "If ... we can put it into orbit, it will be a colossal breakthrough," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said Wednesday, per Interfax. "The will is there to take a new step in world manned space exploration." Russian cosmonauts have collaborated with counterparts from the US and more than a dozen other nations on the ISS since 1998, but that space station is aging, and the country's contract regarding it ends in 2024.
"We can't risk the lives [of our cosmonauts]," Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said on state TV, per the BBC, adding that the current space station's creaky state could eventually lead to "catastrophe," and that the country will reassess ISS' condition in 2024 and make further decisions from there. Russia would manage the building of the new space station, though it would be open to partners helping with construction, Borisov noted. One big anticipated difference with the new space station: It wouldn't be able to be manned year-round like the ISS, as its planned orbital path would mean radiation would be much higher. The Moscow Times notes the project, which is expected to cost more than $5 billion, hasn't yet been approved, per Interfax. Futurism features a video of work on the first base module. (Read more Russia stories.)