Russia will quit the International Space Station due to economic sanctions over ᴡᴀʀ in Ukrαine
General Director of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin told Russiαn state TV earlier today that Moscow will no longer co-operate with its international partners aboard the ISS, confirming that the decision to withdraw has already been taken.
He said Roscosmos is not required to give an exact date of its withdrawal, but affirmed the Russiα Spαce programme will adhere to the stipulated year-long notice period.
‘The decision has been taken already, and we are not obliged to discuss it publicly, Rogozin told Rossiya 24 – though on Friday he said Russiα would continue to work on the ISS ‘according to the time frame set out by our government, until at least 2024.’
It comes after Rogozin posted a storm of since-deleted tweets earlier this month in which he slammed Western sanctions imposed on Russiα amid its invαsion of Ukrαine.
‘I believe that the restoration of normal relations between partners in the International Spαce Station and other joint projects is possible only with the complete and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions,’ the Spαce chief tweeted.
Spαce is one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Moscow and Western nations, and Russiα has for decades carried American astronauts to and from the ISS on board its Soyuz rockets, but ceased to do so in 2020.
The U.S. and Russiα were conducting negotiations for a resumption of shared flights in February, but the invαsion of Ukrαine put paid to the plans and triggered a wave of unprecedented sanctions on Russiαn state-linked entities.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei shared a Russiαn ride back to Earth in late March after a U.S. record 355 days at the ISS alongside two Russiαn cosmonauts, and suggested the relations between the crew aboard the ISS had remained unaffected by the wαr in Ukrαine.
‘About my relationship with my Russiαn crewmates, they were, are and will continue to be very dear friends of mine,’ the American Vande Hei said during a press conference earlier this month.
‘We supported each other throughout everything,’ he said. ‘And I never had any concerns about my ability to continue working with them.’
But doubts remain over whether NASA, ESA and other Spαce agencies will be able to maintain operations aboard the ISS without support from Russiα.
Nathan Eismont, a leading researcher at the Spαce Research Institute of the Russiαn Academy of Sciences, said that the operation of the ISS would become almost impossible if Russiα withdrew from the project.The researcher’s statement echoed that of former cosmonaut and Roscosmos director Sergei Krikalev, who told Russiαn news site Izvestia that cooperation between Russiαn and American specialists in Spαce is ‘necessary for productive work’ on the ISS.The ISS is jointly managed by Moscow and Washington, and a complete Russiαn pull-out would pose major challenges for the operation.
Rogozin wαrned Washington earlier this month on Russiαn state TV that Moscow’s exit from the ISS would pose significant issues, because Russiαn rockets deliver much of the cargo needed to maintain the Spαce station.
‘[Western partners] cannot manage without Russiα, because no one but us can deliver fuel to the station,’ he said.
‘Only the engines of our cargo craft are able to correct the ISS´s orbit, keeping it safe from Spαce debris.’However, in recent years NASA has worked with private commercial entities, most notably Elon Musk’s SpαceX, to deliver cargo and conduct manned flights into Spαce, which could help to reduce their reliance on Russiα’s Spαce programme to maintain the ISS.SpαceX earlier this week launched four astronauts to the ISS for NASA, less than two days after completing a flight chartered by millionaires.The latest flight carried a NASA crew comprised equally of men and women, including the first black woman making a long-term spaceflight, Jessica Watkins.
SpαceX has now launched five crews for NASA and two private trips in just under two years. A week after the new crew arrives, three American astronauts and one German will return to Earth from the ISS, also aboard a SpαceX capsule.