The new head of the Russian space agency announced on Tuesday that Russia will leave the International Space Station after its current commitment expires in late 2024.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” he said. Yuri Borisov, appointed this month manage Roscosmos, the state-controlled corporation in charge of the country’s space program.
Statement came during a meeting between Borisov and President Vladimir Putin or Russia. mr. Borisov told Mr. Putin that Russia would fulfill its obligations by 2024. “I think that by this time we will begin to form the Russian orbital station,” he said.
mr. Putin’s answer: “Good.”
NASA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it is unclear if Russia has formally told NASA and other space station partners that it will withdraw from the project. NASA has said in the past that it intends to continue operating the space station until the end of 2030.
“That could have been bragging by the Russians,” said Phil Larson, White House space adviser during the Obama administration. “It could be revisited, or it could come to fruition.”
The announcement may not mean the station will cease to exist after 2024, but experts say it dims the prospect of keeping the station alive until the end of the decade.
“The withdrawal will take some time,” said Pavel Luzin, a Russian military and space analyst. “Most likely, we need to interpret this as Russia’s refusal to extend the operation of the station until 2030.”
How long the station will be able to work without the participation of Russia is unknown. The outpost in orbit consists of two sections, one headed by NASA, the other by Russia. They are interconnected. Most of the power on the Russian side comes from NASA’s solar arrays, while the Russians provide propulsion to lift the orbit periodically.
The first station module was launched in 1998. astronauts have been living there since 2002. Built like symbol of post-Cold War cooperation The partnership between the two world space superpowers has seen numerous 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 in-space scientific research and a testing ground for demonstrating in-orbit commercial opportunities such as space tourism and advanced manufacturing.
Speaking from orbit at a space station research conference, Kjell Lindgren, one of NASA’s astronauts, said nothing has changed there yet.
“This is very fresh news,” he said, “and therefore we have not officially heard anything. Of course, you know, we were trained to carry out a mission here, and this mission requires the entire crew.
With tensions rising between Washington and Moscow following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Russian space officials, including Dmitry Rogozin, Borisov’s predecessor, have said in recent months that Russia plans to withdraw. But they left it unclear as to when and whether a final decision was made. NASA officials, who want to extend the operation of the space station until 2030, have expressed confidence that Russia will stay.
Mostly, space station operations continued without disruption. In March, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hey returned to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule, as planned. NASA and Roskomos signed an agreement to provide Russian astronauts with seats on American-built spacecraft. in exchange for NASA astronauts going into orbit on Russian Soyuz rockets.
However, NASA this month lashed out at Russia after Roscosmos released photos of the cosmonaut. three Russian cosmonauts on the space station conducting Russian-backed separatist flags in two regions of Ukraine.
Russia has plans to build its own space station, but Roscosmos has been in financial trouble for years. After the decommissioning of the American space shuttles in 2011, NASA had to buy seats on Soyuz rockets, which provided the Russians with a steady stream of money. 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 companies in Europe and other countries from launching satellites on their rockets.
“Without cooperation with the West, Russian cosmonautics is impossible in all its parts, including the military one. Luzin said.
Russia is also seeking greater cooperation with China’s space program, which has launched the lab module will add to its space station on Sunday, Tiangong. But Tiangong is not in an orbit that can be reached from Russian launch sites, and many discussions between the two countries have focused on collaboration on lunar exploration.
“The prospect of cooperation with China is a sham,” the doctor said. Luzin said. “The Chinese looked at Russia as a potential partner until 2012 and have since stopped. Today, Russia has nothing to offer China in terms of space.”
Not so long ago, it was the United States that wanted to close the International Space Station after 2024.
In 2018, the Trump administration proposed termination of federal funding for the space station, hoping to transfer their astronauts to commercial stations. That initiative fizzled out a year later when NASA shifted its focus to accelerating plans to send astronauts back to the moon.
NASA is still trying to create a market for future commercial space stations. Awarded in December contracts totaling $415.6 million with three companies – Blue Origin from Kent, Washington; Nanoracks Houston; and Northrop Grumman of The Dalles, Virginia. – Develop your designs.
However, NASA Inspector General warned that even if the International Space Station exists until 2030, commercial follow-on projects may not be ready in time, and then there may be a gap where NASA does not have an orbiting laboratory to conduct research, especially regarding the long-term health impacts of zero. gravity and radiation on astronauts.
If Russia’s decision leads to the abandonment of the ISS, then China will own the only space station in orbit. China offered to bring astronauts from other countries to Tiangong. European Space Agency astronauts already trained with Chinese astronauts. In general, NASA is prohibited from working directly with China in space.