A recent discussion on the ISS has raised some questions in my mind about Zvezda:

Can the US Part of ISS survive independent of the Russian?

What does Zvezda alone lack from being a capable space station? Are there any existing Russian modules or modules in development that could be attached to enable it to be a capable space station if it is not already? If Russia detached Zvezda from the ISS today, approximately how quickly could they have a functioning independent space station?


1 Answer 1


Zvezda has crew accommodations, orbital control, docking ports to expand (forward end) and accept refueling (aft end). The docking compartment can be used as an airlock for spacewalks. It is far more complete on its own than any other module in the ISS.

Fundamentally, Zvezda is Mir-2. It is the actual Mir-2 module. Had ISS not occurred, the plan was to use this module to start a new station complex.

Like Mir, Zvezda doesn't have Control Moment Gyroscopes (they arrived on Kvant-1). Some work needs to be done to improve communication abilities: Luch-5 satellite relay infrastructure could be utilized more heavily.

Where Zvezda lacks compared to Mir, is in the forward docking compartment, it only has 3 (or 4 if you count the one attached to Zvezda itself). Forward, zenith and nadir. No side ports. This is only an issue as a standalone, as the UM for the future Russian segment is a docking module with 6 ports.

There is not a lot of room in just the one module, nor a lot of power available, which is why Mir had the various add on modules. But by itself it could probably do a good job as a space station (as many Salyut stations and Mir did before it).

As it happens the Russian plan is to use the Nauka MLM module, due to be launched and docked to the earth facing (nadir) port on Zvezda, along with the UM docking ball (6 ports, so lots of options), and the Solar Power platform to form the core of a new station.

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    $\begingroup$ Zvezda doesn't have Control Moment Gyroscopes as didn't have the basic block of Mir (arrived on Kvant-1, I think). Some work needs to be done to improve communication abilities: Luch-5 satellite relay infrastructure could be utilized much heavier. A space station without a Cupola sucks in XXI century. $\endgroup$
    – user54
    May 20, 2014 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ geoffc, I like your answer, but it would be nice if you could incorporate the information @horsh added. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    May 20, 2014 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage Done, updated with that info. $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    May 20, 2014 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ @geoffc I'd also like to see an answer to how quickly Russia could have an independent space station after detaching Zvezda. As in, what timetable are we talking about here if they detached today? $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    May 20, 2014 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage That almost seems like a separate question really. They could detach today, add control gyros and mostly be up and running. But they would have almost no experiment space, room for 3 crew, and limited power. How do you define 'up and running'? $\endgroup$
    – geoffc
    May 20, 2014 at 13:50

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