Russia threatens to quit the International Space Station program (again)

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Russia has again threatened to end its cooperation with the West on the International Space Station (ISS) program.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmosdenounced the sanctions imposed by the United States, Japan, Canada and the European Union – the other partners of the ISS – on his country because of his invasion of Ukraine.

“The purpose of the sanctions is to kill the Russian economy, to plunge our people into despair and hunger and to bring our country to its knees,” Rogozin said. said via Twitter on Saturday (April 2). (He tweeted in Russian; translation provided by Google.)

“I believe that the restoration of normal relations between partners in the international space station and other joint projects is only possible with the full and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions,” he added in another tweet.

Live updates: Invasion of Ukraine by Russia and space impacts

Rogozin also reportedly filed this or a similar complaint with ISS partner agencies formally on March 14; On Saturday, he posted on Twitter what he said were some partners’ responses to a letter from that date.

For example, Rogozin shared what he said was a March 30 letter from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“The United States continues to support international governmental space cooperation, particularly activities associated with the operation of the ISS with Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan,” Nelson’s letter reads in part. “New and existing U.S. export controls continue to enable U.S.-Russian cooperation to ensure continued safe operations of the ISS.”

Rogozin’s recent tweets do not necessarily mean that the ISS program is in immediate danger of disbandment; the Russian space chief is a windy figure with a history of hyperbolic statements.

For example, on February 24 – the day Russia invaded Ukraine – Rogozin said the newly imposed economic sanctions could “destroy” the ISS partnership. But it’s been more or less business as usual aboard the orbiting lab ever since. On March 30, for example, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei came back to earth in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft with two cosmonauts. The landing went off without a hitch despite heightened geopolitical tensions.

Mike Wall is the author of “The low(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.

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