Russia's Chief of Space Programme Says Sanctions Could Imperil International Space Station
The head of Russia's space program said Saturday that the International Space Station's survival is in jeopardy after the United States, the European Union, and Canadian space agencies failed to accept Russian demands for sanctions relief on Russian firms and hardware.
Rogozin suggested on Russian state television that Western sanctions, some of which predate Russia's current military activities in Ukraine, could hinder the operation of Russian spacecraft providing cargo missions to the International Space Station. Russia also deploys manned space missions to the station.
He emphasized that the Western partners require the space station and "cannot manage without Russia, because no one can deliver fuel to the station except us."
"Only the engines of our cargo craft are capable of correcting the ISS's orbit, keeping it secure from space debris," Rogozin noted.
Later Saturday, Rogozin posted on his Telegram channel that he had gotten comments from his Western counterparts promising "continued collaboration on the ISS and its activities."
He underlined his belief that "the restoration of regular relations between partners in the ISS and other collaborative (space) projects is only conceivable with the total and unconditional withdrawal" of the sanctions, which he called illegitimate.
The Canadian Space Agency did not respond to a request for comment. NASA and the European Space Agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment via email.
One of the final areas of collaboration between Moscow and Western nations is space. Negotiations between the United States and Russia to resume collaborative flights to the space station were ongoing when Russia launched its military action in Ukraine last month, provoking unprecedented penalties against Russian state-linked enterprises.
So far, the United States and Russia are still working together in space. After a US record 355 days on the International Space Station, a NASA astronaut took a Russian trip down to Earth on Wednesday, accompanied by two cosmonauts.
Mark Vande Hei arrived in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz capsule alongside Russian Space Agency astronauts Pyotr Dubrov, who spent the previous year in space, and Anton Shkaplerov. Following the touchdown, the wind knocked the capsule onto its side, and the trio emerged one by one into the late afternoon sun.
Vande Hei's return was handled according to protocol. A small NASA crew of medics and other personnel were on hand for the touchdown and promptly returned home with the 55-year-old astronaut.