Russia will exit International Space Station after 2024. But why?
After a plethora of threats about pulling out from the International Space Station (ISS), Roscosmos, Russia's federal space agency, has finally decided to end the multilateral cooperation after 2024. The decision was announced by the agency's newly appointed Director General, Yuri Borisov, after his meeting with President Vladimir Putin. NASA, in response, said that they are yet to receive any official communication.
- The ISS is nearing its end. International partners have agreed to forego the legendary low Earth orbit space station in 2030.
- It seems that Russia, one of the founding members of the space station, will bid adieu even before that.
- It could either be a propaganda or an attempt to push back at western sanctions. Either way, an era of cooperation will end soon.
Russia's decision to quit the ISS comes amid rising tension between Kremlin and the western nations. The country has been at the receiving end of unprecedented western sanctions due to the Ukraine crisis. Former Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin was the first to threaten Russia's withdrawal from the space station. The controversial Rogozin even threatened to drop the ISS on countries that supported Ukraine.
About the decision to quit the ISS after 2024, Borisov said, "The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made." However, the head of Roscosmos confirmed that Russia will fulfill its obligations until then. "I think that by that time we will start putting together a Russian orbital station," he said about the country's future plan.
NASA, the other major player in the ISS apart from Roscosmos, was unaware of the development. The agency's ISS Program Director Robyn Gates said that they have not received an official notice from Russia to end the partnership. Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, reiterated the agency's commitment to the safe operation of the ISS through 2030. He too talked about not receiving any withdrawal notice.
Despite all the tensions between them, space in general and ISS in particular have been important in keeping the relationship between the US and Russia alive. The Americans have been trying to isolate the Russians on the international scene due to the Ukraine invasion over the last few months. Even then, they agreed to resume flights with Russia to the ISS last month.