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News

Is Russia Quitting the International Space Station? Not Quite.

todayApril 2, 2022 1

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The head of Russia’s space agency said on Saturday that he would submit a proposal to the Russian government to end cooperation on the International Space Station program.

On his Telegram social media account, Dimitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, the state corporation that oversees Russia’s space program, blamed sanctions imposed by Western nations after Russia invaded Ukraine for imperiling cooperation in orbit.

“I believe that the restoration of normal relations between partners in the International Space Station and other joint projects is possible only with the complete and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions,” Mr. Rogozin said.

Mr. Rogozin did not provide details including a timeline for when he would want Russia to end its involvement in the orbiting lab.

The space station has for years been hailed as an example of cooperation between Moscow and Washington in a post-Cold War world, and recent suggestions by Mr. Rogozin about its future have served as an indication of the severity of tensions between the West and Russia over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

NASA officials, however, have diligently sidestepped statements by Mr. Rogozin that Russia might pull out of the space station partnership and said that operations on the space station continue as normal.

On Wednesday, a NASA astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, and two Russian counterparts returned to Earth. Their return capsule landed in Kazakhstan, met by Russian and NASA personnel at the landing site who cooperated to recover the astronauts safely.

The agreement between NASA, Russia and the other nations participating in the space station program runs through 2024. The United States is looking to extend that until 2030. Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, said recently that discussions are underway.

“All of our international partners included Roscosmos are making progress on moving towards station extension to 2030,” she said during a news conference on Thursday about an upcoming launch of four astronauts to the space station on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

She added: “We all understand the importance of this continued partnership even in really, really, really tough times.”

NASA is also working on other agreements with Russia. Ms. Lueders said NASA was still waiting on a Russian review of an agreement that would allow some Russian astronauts to ride on future American rocket launches while some NASA astronauts would continue to launch on Russia’s Soyuz rocket.

Unlike NASA buying seats for its astronauts on Soyuz after the retirement of the space shuttles, these would in essence be a barter exchange without financial payments.

“We’re still both working jointly on it,” said Dana Weigel, deputy manager of the space station program at NASA.

A crew of seven, led by NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and including three Russians, is currently on the space station.

Original story from https://www.nytimes.com

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todayApril 2, 2022 1


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