- Russia could leave the International Space Station as soon as 2025, its deputy prime minister said.
- Roscosmos, the Russian equivalent of NASA, intends to launch its own space station by 2030.
- Such a move could end a decades-long relationship in space that has survived political tensions on earth.
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Russia could leave the International Space Station to focus on its ambition to launch its own space station by 2030, Russian officials said.
Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov has predicted that Russia will leave in a Sunday interview with state television, which was reported in English by the TASS news thread.
By TASS, Borisov did not commit to leaving, but noted that Russia’s current commitment only extends to the end of 2024, and that Russia was not satisfied with the current state of the ISS.
Russia has been involved with the ISS and has contributed equipment and astronauts since its launch in 1998. The ISS is the only space station with people on board.
A few days later, on Wednesday, the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos spoke of an independent Russian space station that would be operational by 2030, according to the Guardian and the Financial Times.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, will have the first module for the Russian space station ready by 2025.
The agency is reportedly awaiting the final approval of President Vladimir Putin to proceed. Reports in Russian media differed on how likely it is going to be.
In 2020, the ISS celebrated 20 years of continuous human occupation, although engineers gave it a life expectancy of 15 years. The space station is starting to show signs of aging with broken toilets and air leaks.
A Russian astronaut who returned to Earth from the space station on April 17 said there was no reason to leave the ISS.
The station’s condition is pretty good, ‘Sergei Ryzhikov said in an interview.
Continuation of cooperation after 2024 will depend on a technical inspection, Rogozin said in a press release.
He pushed back on the suggestion that a Russian departure would be sudden. “We are talking about our gradual exit from this project,” he said on Facebook in response to a user comment, TASS reported.
If that happened, a Russian departure would be a blow to decades of US-Russia space cooperation. Russia and the US have been working with other partners to keep the space station in operation since 1998.
It has been a bastion of international cooperation between the two countries since their collaboration on the Apollo-Soyuz test project in the 70s.
The separation between the two countries’ space programs has increased in recent years.
Earlier this year, Russia signed an agreement with China to build a space station on the Moon after refuting NASA’s plan to return to the moon.
Rogozin had earlier criticized the US plan for being too “US-centric” and a “departure from our US partners from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that developed during cooperation with the ISS,” reports The Verge.
China and Russia have also refused to sign the Artemis Accords, a US agreement aimed at controlling the rules of space exploration.