MOSCOW, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Russian segment of the International Space Station could live on as a separate facility after the project's conclusion, a space program official says.
"By the mid-2020s our American colleagues will have exhausted their technical resources and Russia will have a unique opportunity to use the segment, still to be completed, as an orbiting international port," Ria Novosti reported RSC Energia's president Vitalii Lopota as saying at an annual space conference in Moscow.
RSC Energia oversees the country's participation in the ISS.
The long-delayed Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module would only be completed in 2018-2020, Lopota said, but Russian officials have in the past suggested their segment could be detached and operated independently of the ISS.
U.S. President Barack Obama has vowed to keep the American segment operational until 2024.
Initiated as a joint project between the United States and Russia in the 1990s, the space station has been continuously occupied for more than 13 years by astronauts from more than a dozen countries.