MOSCOW, March 27 (UPI) -- Russia may at some point use modules it sends to the International Space Station to build its own orbital station, a senior space industry official said.
Russia plans to launch four new ISS modules by 2020, but could re-use them when the time comes to de-orbit the existing international space station, Alexander Derechin, deputy chief designer for Russia's space corporation RKK Energia, said at a scientific forum in Moscow.
"If the need arises, we could undock the new modules [from the ISS], starting with the MLM, and they will serve as a foundation for a new generation Russian space station," he said.
The MLM, or multirole laboratory module, will be the first of the new modules for the ISS. It is set for launch by the end of the year, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.
The ISS currently has five Russian-built modules -- the Zvezda service module, the Zarya cargo block, the Pirs docking module, the Poisk ("Search") research module and Rassvet ("Dawn") research module.
The International Space Station is set to be de-orbited in 2020, but the project's participants -- the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and 11 members states of the European Space Agency -- are discussing the possibility of extending its life until 2028.