Moscow will fulfill its obligations to International Space Station (ISS) partners before quitting the project, says Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov. According to the newly-appointed head of Russia space agency, the country plans to leave the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024.
“The decision has been made to leave this station in 2024,” Roscosmos Director General Yury Borisov told Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia and the west are at odds over the Ukraine invasion, which has escalated tensions.
NASA and Roscosmos have signed a deal to allow astronauts and cosmonauts to ride together on rocket missions bound for the International Space Station despite tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Roscosmos’ predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, had also urged the agency to “reconsider its priorities” and focus on “independence in matters of space.”
In addition to vague plans for a moon base, Borisov said Roscosmos would now focus on its space station initiative.
NASA, Roscosmos, and European, Japanese, and Canadian space agencies collaborate on the International Space Station.
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Sanctions against Russia: A problem
There is no doubt that the Russian announcement is part of Moscow’s maneuvering to win relief from Western sanctions over the Ukrainian conflict.
Borisov’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, said last month that Moscow would only participate in negotiations about the station’s possible extension if the U.S. lifted its sanctions on Russian space industries.
NASA astronauts now travel to and from the space station via Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, which eliminated a major source of revenue for the Russian Space Agency. Russian rockets have been providing rides to and from the space station for NASA for years.
According to NASA and Russian officials, the agreement ensures that there will always be an American and a Russian aboard the space station.
U.S.-Soviet relations improved in 1975 when Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft docked in orbit in the first crewed international space mission during the height of the Cold War.