The United States and Russia have cooperated extensively and well in building and operating the International Space Station since the plan was formalized in 1993. The European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency have played major roles since the beginning, but it was first and foremost a U.S.-Russian venture.
That deep cooperation has been failing for some years but the bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine and resulting Western sanctions may well put a final end of that.
Late last week, as Russia invaded Ukraine and Western nations responded with increasingly harsh sanctions, the director of Russia’s space agency chief sent out a harsh, sarcastic and threatening tweet about that ISS partnership.
After President Biden announced Thursday that the U.S. would sanction major Russian banks and impose export controls on Russia to curtail high-tech imports, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that the sanctions could “destroy our cooperation on the ISS.”
Not only that, he said that the current orbit and location of the ISS is under his nation’s control since Russian Progress spacecraft keep it from losing altitude. He went on in a long tweet that threatened: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled de-orbit and fall into the United States or Europe? There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect?”
“The ISS does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” Rogozin, a longtime Putin ally, has been at the helm of Roscosmos since May 2018 and was previously a deputy prime minister in charge of the Russian defense industry.
In a statement, NASA said that “The new export control measures will continue to allow U.S.-Russia civil space operation. No changes are planned to the agency’s support for ongoing in-orbit and ground-station operations.”
There are four NASA astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts, and one European astronaut now aboard the ISS.… Read more