Russia - and the rest of the space exploration community - was unsure of future International Space Station (ISS) plans due to sanctions against the country from the West sparked by the 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia announced on Tuesday that it plans to stay part of the International Space Station until 2024, at which time Russia's Federal Space Agency will undock its modules and create a standalone Russian base, according to a statement from the agency.
The Scientific and Technical Council met on Tuesday to discuss two key areas: modernization of space facilities of the ISS and the creation of facilities for the Russian space station in preparation for deep space exploration.
"The concept involves the use of the ISS until 2024, and then planned to create a Russian space base on the basis separated from the ISS modules," the translated statement read. "Configuration multipurpose laboratory module (MLM), nodal module (UM) and scientific power module (NEM) to create a promising Russian space station to meet the challenges of providing secure access to the Russian space."
Russia also plans robotic lunar missions in preparation for a manned lunar visit in 2030.
Russia is still finalizing plans for its space program from 2016 to 2025, but prior to Tuesday's announcement, Russia's ISS involvement was in doubt. Alexei Krasnov, head of human spaceflight at Roscosmos, said in July 2014 that he agreed with NASA's proposal to extend ISS support from 2020 to 2024, but U.S. response to the crisis in Ukraine has caused strain on international relations, according to Spaceflight Now.
In January 2014, the Obama administration announced its support to keep ISS running until at least 2024 - possibly extending the mission to 2028, the 30-year anniversary of the station's first module launch, according to Spaceflight Now.
Roscosmos Scientific and Technical Council has another meeting set for March to evaluate the potential for heavy-lift launchers and deep space exploration.
Russia is currently responsible to transport ISS crew to and from the orbiting station, but private companies in the United States are gearing to begin their flights by the end of 2017, at which time NASA will no longer rely on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft for a lift.