Amid the ongoing confrontation between Washington and Moscow over the war in Ukraine, the Russian space agency will quit its partnership on the International Space Station “after 2024”, news agency AFP reported, quoting officials from Roscosmos.
“Of course, we will fulfill all our obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,” AFP quoted the Russian space agency chief as saying to President Vladimir Putin.
The decision comes weeks after the US criticised Russian astronauts for using the Space Station to push political narratives after cosmonauts displayed flags of Ukrainian areas controlled by Russian forces. Nasa had said, “It strongly rebukes Russia using the International Space Station for political purposes to support its war against Ukraine, which is fundamentally inconsistent with the station’s primary function among the 15 international participating countries to advance science and develop technology for peaceful purposes.”
The development also happened just days after a Russian and a European astronaut conducted a joint spacewalk to fit a robotic arm on the Russian module Nauka that recently arrived at the flying laboratory.
Russian cosmonaut during a spacewalk outside Space Station. (Photo: Nasa)
AN ALL-TIME LOW
The relationship between the two nuclear powers has been at an all-time low after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine nearly four months ago. While the relationship had been taking a beating on the ground, the cooperation between Nasa and Roscosmos had been ongoing in space, with the Russian space agency even aiding the return of an American astronaut on its Soyuz spacecraft.
Mark Vande Hei landed in a Soyuz capsule in Kazakhstan alongside the Russian Space Agency’s Pyotr Dubrov, who had also spent the past year in space, and Anton Shkaplerov.
#BREAKING Russia to quit International Space Station (ISS) ‘after 2024’: Roscosmos official pic.twitter.com/JVNgZN0avZ
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) July 26, 2022
The Russian space agency had recently gone through a leadership change after Putin replaced his vocal supporter Dimitry Rogozin as the boss of the Russian space agency and appointed Yuri Borisov, a deputy prime minister who was in charge of the weapons industry.
Rogozin was known for sparring with the West when it came to their cooperation on the Space Station. He had in April warned of severing cooperation on the International Space Station, saying that either the donkey will die, or the ISS will die by its own death.”
The US had in January this year extended the mission timeline of the Space Station till 2030. (Photo: Nasa)
END OF THE LINE?
The flying outpost which orbits the Earth every 92 minutes has been a permanent address for humans since the early 1990s. Nearly 110 countries have so far been part of research and experimentation done in zero-gravity on the station that flies at 27576 kmph.
The US had in January this year extended the mission timeline of the Space Station till 2030, continuing the partnership between the European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and Russia’s Roscosmos.
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