August 13, 2022

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Russia tells that NASA's space station withdrawal is less imminent than previously reported

Russia tells that NASA’s space station withdrawal is less imminent than previously reported

The International Space Station (ISS) is photographed by the Expedition 56 crew of the Soyuz spacecraft after dismantling, October 4, 2018. NASA/Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

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A senior NASA official told Reuters on Wednesday that Russian space officials have told their American counterparts that Moscow wants to continue transporting its astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) until their orbital site is built and operational. .

Combined with comments by a senior Russian space official published on Wednesday, the latest indications are that Russia still has at least six years to end an orbital cooperation with the United States dating back more than two decades.

A split in the International Space Station program seemed closer to hand on Tuesday, when Yuri Borisov, the newly appointed director general of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, surprised NASA by announcing that Moscow intended to withdraw from the space station partnership “after 2024.” Read more

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Russian officials told the US space agency later on Tuesday that Russia’s Roscosmos wanted to remain in the partnership while Russia operates its planned orbital position, called ROSS, NASA chief space operations officer Kathy Lueders said in an interview.

“We are not getting any indication at any level of work that anything has changed,” Luders told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that NASA’s relationships with Roscosmos remain “business as usual.”

The space station, a science laboratory that spans the size of a football field and orbits about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth, has been continuously occupied for more than two decades under a partnership led by the United States and Russia that also includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

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It offers one of the last vestiges of cooperation between the United States and Russia, though its fate has been in question since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, straining bilateral relations on several fronts as the Biden administration imposed economic sanctions on Moscow.

The Ukraine conflict has also raised tensions between the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

No formal agreement has yet been reached to extend Russia’s participation in the International Space Station beyond 2024. Lueders said that NASA, Roscosmos, ESA and other station partners plan to discuss the possibility of extending each other’s presence in the lab until 2030 during a regular meeting Friday of the board, which Supervising the management of the station.

On its website, on Wednesday, Roscosmos published an interview with Vladimir Solovyov, flight director of the Russian section of the space station, who was quoted as saying that Russia should remain at the station until Russia works.

Solovyov said he expects the ROSS to be fully assembled into orbit sometime in 2028.

“We, of course, need to continue operating the ISS until we create a fairly tangible backlog of ROSS,” Solovyov said. “We must bear in mind that if we stop manned flights for several years, it will be very difficult to restore what has been achieved.”

The American and Russian parts of the space station were intentionally built to be so interconnected and technically interconnected, that any abrupt withdrawal of Russian cooperation aboard the International Space Station could seriously disrupt one of the main pillars of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

(Reporting by Joey Rowlett) Editing by Jonathan Otis and Will Dunham

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