The new head of the Russian Space Agency announced Tuesday that Russia will leave the International Space Station after the end of its current commitment at the end of 2024.
“The decision was made to leave the station after 2024,” he said. Yuri Borisov, who was appointed this month To run Roscosmos, a state-controlled company responsible for the country’s space program.
came the pronunciation During a meeting between Mr. Borisov and President Vladimir Putin from Russia. Mr. Borisov told Mr. Putin that Russia would fulfill its commitments until 2024. “I think that by this time we will begin to form the Russian orbital station,” he said.
Mr. Putin replied: “Good.”
NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it is not clear whether Russia has officially informed NASA and other space station partners that it is leaving the project. In the past, NASA has said it intends to continue operating the space station until the end of 2030.
“This might be a rant from the Russians,” said Phil Larson, the White House space adviser during the Obama administration. “It can be reconsidered or it can come to fruition.”
The announcement may not mean that the station will no longer exist after 2024, but experts say it clouds the possibility of the station continuing to operate until the end of the decade.
“The withdrawal will take some time,” said Pavel Luzhin, a Russian military and aerospace analyst. “Most likely, we need to interpret this as Russia’s refusal to extend the operation of the plant until 2030.”
It is uncertain how long the station can operate without Russian interference. The outpost in orbit consists of two divisions, one led by NASA and the other led by Russia. The two are interrelated. Much of the power on the Russian side comes from NASA’s solar panels, while the Russians provide the impetus to periodically raise the orbit.
The first terminal module was launched in 1998, and Astronauts have lived there since 2002. brown as a A symbol of post-Cold War cooperation Between the world’s two superpowers, the partnership has withstood many ups and downs in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Russia. Over the past 20 years, it has become an important laboratory for scientific research in space, and a test bed for demonstrating commercial opportunities in orbit such as space tourism and advanced manufacturing.
Speaking from orbit to a conference on space station research, Kjell Lindgren, a NASA astronaut, said nothing has changed there so far.
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He said, “This is very recent news, and so we have not heard anything official. Of course, you know, we have been trained to do a mission here, and this mission requires the entire crew.”
As tensions rose between Washington and Moscow after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Russian space officials, including Borisov’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, issued statements in recent months that Russia was planning to leave. But they left ambiguity about when or whether the final decision had been made. NASA officials, who want to extend space station operations until 2030, have expressed confidence in Russia’s survival.
Russia has plans for its own space station, but Roscosmos has been cash-strapped for years. After the US space shuttles retired in 2011, NASA was forced to purchase seats on Soyuz rockets, providing a steady stream of money for the Russians. That revenue dried up after SpaceX began providing transportation for NASA astronauts two years ago. Russia lost Additional sources of income As a result of economic sanctions that prevented European companies and other countries from launching satellites on their missiles.
“Without cooperation with the West, the Russian space program is impossible in all its parts, including the military one,” said Dr. Luzin.
Russia is also looking to increase cooperation with China’s space programme, which launched a Sunday lab unit to be added to its space station, Tiangong. But Tiangong It is not in orbit accessible to Russian launchers, and many discussions between the two countries have focused on Cooperation in the exploration of the moon.
“The prospects for cooperation with China are an illusion,” said Dr. Luzin. The Chinese viewed Russia as a potential partner until 2012 and have since held back. Today, Russia cannot offer anything to China in terms of space. ”
Not so long ago, it was the United States that wanted to end the International Space Station after 2024.
In 2018, the Trump administration proposed Ending federal funding for the space stationHoping to transport its astronauts to commercial stations. That initiative fizzled out a year later when NASA turned its attention to accelerating plans to return astronauts to the Moon.
NASA is still trying to launch a market for future commercial space stations. In December, awarded Contracts totaling $415.6 million for three companies – Blue Origin of Kent, Washington; Nanoracks of Houston; and Northrop Grumman of Dallas, Virginia – to develop their designs.
The inspector general for NASA, however, to caution That even if the ISS continues until 2030, commercial follow-ups may not be ready in time, and there may be a gap where NASA does not have an orbiting laboratory to conduct research, especially with regard to the long-term health effects of zero. Gravity and radiation on astronauts.
If Russia’s decision results in the abandonment of the International Space Station, China will have the only space station in orbit. China has offered to transport astronauts from other countries to Tiangong. Astronauts from the European Space Agency I have already trained with Chinese astronauts. In general, NASA is prohibited from working directly with China in space.
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