WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Russia is set to pull out from the International Space Station after 2024, ending its collaboration with NASA.
- Russia and the U.S. have been working together in space for decades but came under strain recently.
- Moscow indicated earlier that it may quit after it invaded Ukraine, and is touting a plan to build its own station.
Russia is set to pull out of the International Space Station after 2024, according to a report from Russian-run news agency TASS on Tuesday.
Russia and the U.S. have been working together in space for decades, and the pullout could mean the end of the collaboration.
Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos agency, said that Russia would fulfill its existing commitments but after 2024, Roscosmos is planning to focus on building its own space station. The decision Tuesday, Borisov said, was final.
The agency had hinted that it may pull out of the ISS earlier this year as tensions between Russia and the U.S. increased in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Currently, only two crewed space stations are orbiting the Earth: the ISS and Tiangong, China’s space station that is nearing completion.
Despite the announcement, Roscosmos has not officially announced its withdrawal to NASA, a senior NASA official said.
Former Roscosmos Director-General Dmitry Rogozin predicted in April that Russia would pull out of the ISS, but hinted that the decision could change if Western sanctions were lifted.
NASA also issued a rare statement condemning the use of the ISS for “political purposes to support [the] war against Ukraine” after Roscosmos published pictures of ISS cosmonauts holding flags of the Luhansk People’s Republic, a breakaway region in Ukraine that Russia claimed to be protecting by mounting its invasion.
NASA is planning to send astronauts to private space stations after the end of the ISS, but those stations likely won’t be available until the late 2020s.
The ISS is 24 years old and nearing the end of its life, but NASA has previously said it could keep it going until 2030.
Source: The Guardian