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Will Russia’s Exit From International Space Station (ISS) Derail NASA’s Plans?
International Space Station (ISS) has been at the forefront of space operations since it launched in 1998. Many space agencies including NASA, Roscosmos, and the Japanese space agency have become a part of the space laboratory to carry out important experiments in space. However, the space lab is aging and might soon be losing partners.
Recently, Russia’s new space chief confirmed that the country will stop sending cosmonauts to the ISS by 2025. Russian cosmonauts have been present at the ISS since the space outpost started operations. Since ISS might be decommissioned in 2031, Russia aims to shift focus to building its space observatory.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” said Yuri Borisov, chief of Russian space agency Roscosmos told President Vladimir Putin during a recent meeting, reported AP.
Russia-Ukraine War Could Be The Reason
While the Russian space agency might have plans to build its space station, another possible reason for leaving the ISS could be the deteriorating relations between the two nations after Russia raged war in Ukraine.
Besides, Dmitry Rogozin, who is Borisov’s predecessor, went on record threatening to crash the ISS on the US or Europe if they impose sanctions on Russia for going to war with Ukraine. This could be a strong reason that Russia wants to exit the International Space Station way before it is decommissioned.
Will Russia’s Exit Derail NASA’s Future Plans?
NASA said that it wants to make use of the space outpost for another eight years before decommissioning it and moving operations to a privately funded space station. However, it’s unclear if Russia’s exit from the ISS could derail NASA’s plans.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson recently said in a statement that NASA was “committed to the safe operation” of the space laboratory through 2030 and aims “to build future capabilities to assure our major presence in low-Earth orbit.”
“We haven’t received any official word from [Roscosmos] as to the news today,” said Robyn Gatens, director of the ISS for NASA. She added that they’d be “talking more about their plan going forward.”
Dedicated Space Stations Could Grow
Despite political differences between the US and Russia, the space agencies from both nations have managed to work seamlessly aboard the ISS and carried out important scientific experiments in space. If Russia still exits the space laboratory after 2024, the ISS will continue to host astronauts from countries including the US, Japan, Canada, and some European nations.
Russia isn’t the only nation to have plans for its dedicated space facility. China has also deployed several parts to build its near-Earth station for astronauts to stay in space for a long duration. The country also launched a major component of its habitable satellite. It remains to be seen what the future holds for the ISS, but we might certainly see more dedicated space facilities funded by private space companies.