- Russia could leave the International Space Station as early as 2025, its deputy prime minister said.
- Roscosmos, the Russian equivalent of NASA, wants to launch its own space station by 2030.
- Such a move could end a decade-long connection in space that has survived political efforts 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 raised the possibility of Russia leaving in a Sunday interview for state TV, and TASS newswire was published in English.
According to TASS, Borisov did not undertake to leave, but he noted that Russia’s existing obligation extends only to the end of 2024 and that Russia is not satisfied with the current state of the ISS.
Russia has been involved in the ISS, providing 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 about an independent Russian space station that will be operational by 2030, the Guardian and Financial Times report.
The first module for the Russian space station will be ready by 2025, said the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
The agency should wait for the final approval of President Vladimir Putin to continue. Reports in the Russian media differ in the likelihood that this will happen.
In 2020, the ISS celebrated 20 years of uninterrupted human engagement, even though engineers gave it a 15-year lifespan. The space station is starting to show signs of age, with broken toilets and air leaks.
A Russian cosmonaut who returned to Earth from the space station on April 17 said that there was no reason to leave the ISS.
“The condition of the station is pretty good,” Sergei Ryzhikov said in an interview.
Continuation of cooperation after 2024 will depend on the technical inspection, Rogozin said at a press briefing.
He pushed back the suggestion that the 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 happens, Russia’s departure would be a blow to decades of U.S.-Russian cooperation in space. Russia and the United States, along with other partners, have worked together to keep the space station operational since 1998.
It is a bastion of international cooperation between the two nations since their collaboration on the Apollo-Soyuz Test project of the 70s.
The separation of the space programs of the two nations has been increasing in recent years.
Earlier this year, Russia signed an agreement with China to build a space station on the moon, after rejecting NASA’s plan to return to the moon.
Rogozin had previously criticized the U.S. plan as too “American-oriented” and “a departure of our U.S. partners from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that developed during the collaboration on the ISS,” The Verge reported.
China and Russia have also refused to sign the Artemis Agreement, an American agreement aimed at managing the rules of space exploration.