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, Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, the state corporation that oversees Russia’s space program, blamed sanctions imposed by Western countries for cooperation in orbit after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“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 removal of illegal sanctions,” Mr. Rogozin said.
Mr Rogozin did not provide details, including a timeline, of when he wants Russia to end its involvement in the orbiting laboratory.
The space station has over the years been hailed as an example of cooperation between Moscow and Washington in the post-Cold War world, and Mr. Rogozin’s recent suggestions about its future reflect the gravity of tensions between the West and Russia. Worked as indicated. On Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
NASA officials, however, have diligently brushed off Mr. Rogozin’s statements that Russia may pull out of the space station partnership and said that operations on the space station are continuing as normal.
On Wednesday, a NASA astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, and two Russian counterparts returned to Earth. Their return capsule landed in Kazakhstan, met at the landing site by Russian and NASA personnel who cooperated with the astronauts to recover safely.
The agreement between NASA, Russia and other countries participating in the space station program runs through 2024. The United States wants to expand by 2030. Kathy Leiders, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, said recently that discussions are ongoing.
“All of our international partners, including Roscosmos, are looking to expand to the station by 2030,” he said during a news conference Thursday about the 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 difficult times.”
NASA is also working on other agreements with Russia. Ms. Laiders said NASA was still waiting for a Russian review of an agreement that would allow some Russian astronauts to ride on future US rocket launches, while some NASA astronauts would continue to launch on Russia’s Soyuz rockets .
In contrast to the purchase of seats by NASA for its astronauts on the Soyuz following the retirement of the Space Shuttle, these would in essence be a barter exchange without financial payment.
“We’re both still working jointly on this,” 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 aboard the space station.