Russia Leaving ISS, According to NASA’s Head

For decades, the United States has had a mutually beneficial partnership with Russia, which has frequently acted as a powerful symbol of post-Cold War cooperation between East and West. However, NASA’s new chief, Bill Nelson, is concerned that US and Russia partnership, this cooperation may soon come to Russia leaving ISS.

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Russian officials have threatened to leave the International Space Station, the orbiting laboratory that the US and Russia have co-operated on for the past two decades, as early as 2024 in favor of launching their own space station. Meanwhile, Nelson and the US government plan to keep the International Space Station program going until at least 2030.

“It would not be good if Russia pulled out,” Nelson stated flatly. The fact that Russia has indicated that it is eager to work closely with China on ambitions for deep space exploration adds to the complication of US-Russia relations.

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While geopolitical tensions between the US and Russia and China are at an all-time high over human rights violations, cyberattacks, and a variety of other concerns, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year to examine the possibility of constructing a cooperative lunar outpost.

The Wolf Amendment, a 2011 statute that prohibits NASA from engaging in such negotiations with China unless it has received explicit approval from the FBI or Congress, also prevents NASA from talking to China about possible bilateral cooperation.

Some US officials also did not shy away from political expression

In a Thursday interview with CNN Business’ Rachel Crane, Nelson said that if Russia begins to rely solely on China and Russia leaving ISS, “I anticipate we’ll have a whole new race to the moon with China and Russia pitted against the US.” We’ve been cooperating with Russians in space for decades, now upwards of 45 years, and I want that cooperation to continue.

Nonetheless, Nelson expressed optimism that most of the language from top Russian government officials does not reflect attitudes against the US within Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos.

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Whatever the politics are, I can tell you that we have a poor relationship with Russia right now at the Putin level… “I can assure you that the workers, the astronauts, want to stay with the Americans,” Nelson added.

Nelson spoke with Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, for the first time on Friday. When contacted by phone on Friday, NASA Press Secretary Jackie McGuinness said Rogozin and Nelson addressed the future of the country’s space collaboration, but Rogozin offered no specific guarantees about how long the government plans to stay a participant.

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According to a statement from Roscosmos, Nelson emphasized his desire to keep the space station operational until 2030, and Rogozin indicated his support for Nelson while also addressing “many questions that had been raised by the US side previously and are now severely impeding collaboration.”

The statement slammed the penalties “imposed by the American government against Russian space industry enterprises.”

We have to wait a while to see if Russia leaving ISS is really or if these words were just said in front of the camera.