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Battle: Translated Among The Stars…

Russia shall withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) and shall snap ties with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), an independent agency of the US Federal Government responsible for the civil space programme, aeronautics research and space research, after 2024.

During his recent meeting with President Vladimir Putin, newly-appointed Head of the Russian state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos Yuri Borisov said that Moscow should focus on building its own orbiting outpost in space after 2024. As expected, Borisov’s discussions with President Putin have triggered a fresh controversy. Later, Roscosmos issued a modified statement, saying that Russia would bring its cosmonauts back from the ISS until it builds its own orbital outpost. Hence, there is a possibility that the more than two-decade contract between NASA and Roscosmos will end forever in 2028.

Yuri Borisov

Incidentally, Russia calls its astronauts cosmonauts, which comes from the Russian word Kосмос (Kosmos), meaning space. The word is borrowed from Greek. The Russians use this word in order to distinguish them from NATO-oriented space travellers. Astronaut technically applies to all human space travellers regardless of their nationality or allegiance. However, astronauts sent by Russia or the erstwhile Soviet Union to space are typically known as cosmonauts.

Experts are of the opinion that Roscosmos has made such a decision due to the imposition of multiple economic sanctions on Russia by the US and its Western allies as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As the ties between Russia and the US has touched a new low, the Kremlin wants to withdraw from the ISS, one of the last symbols of bilateral cooperation. Relations between Roscosmos and the European Space Agency (ESA) have also deteriorated since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

According to a senior Roscosmos official (who wished to remain anonymous), Russia would take six years to build its own orbital outpost or space station. He has stressed that the Russian space station will be called ROSS. Meanwhile, Chief of NASA Space Operations Kathryn (Kathy) Lueders has said the Russian space officials informed the US space agency that Roscosmos wished to remain in the partnership, as Russia works to get its planned orbital outpost up and running. “We’re not getting any indication at any working level that anything’s changed,” Lueders told Reuters, adding that NASA’s relations with Roscosmos remain “business as usual“.

Roscosmos has published an interview of Vladimir Solovyov, the Flight Director for the ISS’ Russian segment, on its website. In that interview, Solovyov was heard saying that Russia must remain on the ISS until ROSS is operating. “We, of course, need to continue operating the ISS until we create a more or less tangible backlog for ROSS. We must take into account that if we stop manned flights for several years, then it will be yyvery difficult to restore what has been achieved,” he stressed. Solovyov also expressed hope that ROSS would be fully assembled in orbit sometime in 2028.

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