The United States may suspend all shuttle flights to the International Space Station for 1,5-2 years, Valery Ryumin, who is in charge of the Russian side of the ISS, believes. In this case Russia will have "to carry a greater burden," he said in an interview with the governmental Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper.
According to Ryumin, who is also a board member at the Energiya corporation, which produces space equipment, in order to maintain the ISS Russia needs about 6 Progress supply crafts and 2-3 manned Soyuz carriers. Commenting on Russia's readiness to do it, Ryumin said, "Technically we are ready for everything provided we have money, including the production of as many space vehicles as needed." However, now Russia launches no more than two Soyuz and three Progress space vehicles a year. "It is all we have at the moment," said the well-known Russian specialist.
He admitted the possibility that for some time the ISS might remain unmanned. Although, he said it was "the worst case scenario" because the station was constructed specifically for manned flights.
The Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper reports that US shuttles delivered to the ISS 80% of passengers and 90% of cargo.