Russia’s new space chief announced his nation’s plans to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024. Still, senior NASA officials said Russia has not formally intended to end its 20-year orbital partnership with the United States.
While heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have raised months of uncertainty about future American-Russian space collaboration, the announcement by Yuri Borisov, the Russia’s space agency Roscosmos’ newly appointed director-general, came as a surprise.
The two past Cold War adversaries signed a crew exchange agreement just two weeks ago, allowing US astronauts and Russian cosmonauts to share flights on each other’s spacecraft to and from the ISS in the future.
Bill Nelson, the Administrator of NASA, issued a statement reiterating the US commitment to keeping the ISS in operation through 2030, adding the space agency was coordinating with its partners.
Nelson said NASA had not made aware of decisions from any of its partners. However, it was continuing to build future capabilities to assure its significant presence in low-Earth orbit.
The International Space Station (ISS) was hurled into space in 1998, has been continuously occupied since November 2000 under a US-Russian-led partnership that also includes Japan, Canada, and 11 European countries.