Russia says NASA space station exits far less than previously reported

This photo is taken by the Expedition 56 crew from the Soyuz spacecraft on October 4, 2018, after the International Space Station (ISS) has undocked. Manual by NASA/Roscosmos/REUTERS/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, July 27 (Reuters) – Russian space officials have told their U.S. counterparts that Moscow wants to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) until their own orbital outpost is built and operational, a senior NASA official told Reuters on Wednesday. .

The latest indications, along with comments from a senior Russian space official released Wednesday, are that Russia is at least six years away from ending more than two decades of orbital cooperation with the United States.

A split in the ISS program appeared imminent on Tuesday when Yuri Borisov, appointed as the new director general of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, surprised NASA by announcing that Moscow wanted to withdraw from the space station partnership “after 2024.” read more

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Kathy Luders, NASA’s head of space operations, told the U.S. space agency on Tuesday that Russian officials wanted to stay in partnership with Roscosmos as it works to name its planned orbital outpost, ROSS.

“We have not changed anything at any mission level,” Lueders told Reuters on Wednesday, adding that NASA’s relations with Roscosmos would remain “as usual.”

The space station, a science laboratory the size of a football field and orbiting about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, has been continuously occupied for more than two decades under a US-Russia-led partnership that includes Canada, Japan and others. 11 European countries.

Although its fate has been in doubt since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on Moscow that have strained bilateral relations on multiple fronts.

The Ukraine conflict has fueled tensions between Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA).

A formal agreement to extend Russia’s ISS participation beyond 2024 has yet to be reached. NASA, Roscosmos, ESA and the station’s other partners plan to discuss the possibility of extending each other’s presence at the lab until 2030 during a special meeting Friday of the board that oversees the station’s management, Lueders said.

Roscosmos published an interview on its website on Wednesday with Vladimir Solovyov, flight director of the space station’s Russian wing, who was quoted as saying that Russia should remain on the station until ROSS is operational.

ROSS will be fully integrated into orbit in 2028, Solovyov said.

“Of course, we need to continue operating the ISS until we create a more or less reliable backstop to ROSS,” Solovyov said. “We have to take into account that if we stop using drones for years, it will be very difficult to recover what has been achieved.”

The U.S. and Russian segments of the space station are purposely built to be intertwined and technologically interdependent, so that a sudden withdrawal of Russian cooperation aboard the ISS would seriously disrupt the core of NASA’s human spaceflight program.

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Report by Joey Rowlett; Editing by Jonathan Otis and Will Dunham

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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