Russia’s space commander has threatened to leave the International Space Station (ISS) program in 2025 unless US sanctions on Russia’s space sector are lifted.
Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said during a Russian parliament hearing on Monday that if the sanctions remain in place and are not lifted soon the issue of Russia leaving the ISS would become the problem of the US and its partners. Rogozin also said that Russia is unable to launch some satellites because US sanctions prevent his country from acquiring certain microchips essential for the Russian program.
Rogozin famously said in 2014 that instead of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, NASA should utilize trampolines to transport humans to the International Space Station. The remarks occurred after the US and other Western countries put sanctions on Russian officials, including Rogozin, over Russia’s military activities in Crimea. The Soyuz was the only orbital astronaut taxi accessible after NASA’s space shuttle fleet was halted in 2011. Last year, though, when SpaceX began flying personnel to and from the ISS, the situation altered.
Other penalties were imposed in response to what US authorities described as Russian-led cyberattacks and electoral meddling – a claim Russia has disputed. President Donald Trump’s administration claimed in December that Russian space companies TsNIIMash (the Central Research Institute of Machine Building) and Rocket and Space Center Progress have ties to the country’s military. As a result of this designation, U.S. corporations must get licenses before selling to these groups.
Hundreds of companies in both Russia and China were investigated by the US Department of Commerce during Trump’s presidency. Current US President Joe Biden referred to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as a “killer” earlier this year while putting new sanctions on Russia, further escalating the tension between the two superpowers.
On Friday (June 4), Rogozin conducted an “introductory phone call” with incoming NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, NASA said in a statement, describing the meeting as a “constructive discussion on continued cooperation between NASA and Roscosmos.”
However, according to a statement released by Roscosmos on Friday, the sanctions and a lack of official information about the ISS’s future are “significantly hindering” cooperation between Russia and the United States in the space realm, which dates back to the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission in 1975.
The present ISS agreement is slated to expire in 2024, but a number of partners are negotiating a new arrangement that will last until at least 2028. NASA and Roscosmos both stated that they intend to continue conversations, including face-to-face meetings. Nelson is due to visit Russia soon, and talks with the Europeans will continue until “the end of June 2021,” according to Roscosmos.
The Global Space Exploration Conference, which will be held in St. Petersburg from June 14 to 18, will provide an opportunity for discussion. Roscosmos and the International Astronautical Federation are co-hosting the event.