Russia to NASA: Sticking with ISS until at least 2028
Following Moscow's announcement yesterday that it will end its partnership with the ISS after 2024, Russian space officials say today they will stay till 2028, when their own outpost in orbit is built.
Russian space officials have informed their US counterparts that Moscow expects to remain within the International Space Station (ISS) at least until 2028 when their own outpost in orbit is built, a senior NASA official told Reuters on Wednesday.
NASA was surprised by the announcement of the newly appointed director-general of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, on Tuesday, on Moscow's intention to end the longstanding space station partnership "after 2024."
NASA's space operations chief Kathy Lueders said in an interview that Russian officials told the US space agency later on Tuesday that Roscosmos would remain in the partnership as Russia works to get its planned orbital outpost, named ROSS, up and running.
"We're not getting any indication at any working level that anything's changed," Lueders told Reuters, adding that NASA's ties with Roscosmos remain "business as usual."
An official deal to extend Russia's participation beyond 2024 has not yet been made. NASA, Russia, and the station's other partners plan to discuss the prospect of extending each other's presence to 2030 during a meeting of the board that oversees the station's management on Friday, Lueders said.
Roscosmos published Wednesday on its website an interview with the flight director for the space station's Russian segment Vladimir Solovyov, who was quoted as saying that Russia must remain on the station until ROSS is operating.
"We, of course, need to continue operating the ISS until we create a more or less tangible backlog for ROSS," he said. "We must take into account that if we stop manned flights for several years, then it will be very difficult to restore what has been achieved."
US exploring options to mitigate impacts on ISS
The United States is reviewing its options to mitigate any potential impacts of Russia's withdrawal from the ISS on the space station, White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said.
Earlier, the new head of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would fulfill all its international obligations and withdraw from the ISS by 2024.
"We are exploring options, of course, to mitigate any potential impacts on the International Space Station beyond 2024," Kirby revealed during a conference call.
"If in fact, Russia withdraws, that's the responsible thing to do having seen these reports," Kirby revealed.
The US and Russia have agreed to fly each other's spacefarers to the ISS. The agreement comes after months of tensions and ambiguity surrounding collaborative space activity in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine.
The ultimate purpose of the agreement is to ensure that at least one US astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut be present at the ISS to maintain respective sectors of the station, according to Roscosmos.
The apparent breakthrough in NASA-Roscosmos connections comes after months of difficulties caused by the two countries' deteriorating relationship.
Despite the tense US-Russian relations, Marck Vande Hei, a US astronaut that has been in space for 355 days, was confirmed to be returning home aboard a Russian rocket.