Russia Quitting The International Space Station In 2024

Russia Quitting The International Space Station In 2024

Russia Quitting The International Space Station In 2024

My middle son picked the Apollo missions to study this summer. As all students of history know, it wasn’t just about going to the moon. It was about beating the Soviet Union there.

And we did. But even though the race ended when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, one of the more important moments in American-Soviet relations occurred on July 17, 1975. Yes, 47 years ago, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project was the first moment of international cooperation between America and Russia in space, with American astronauts shaking hands with Soviet cosmonauts through a docking module.

And now that partnership looks like it is coming to an end, as political machinations on earth have deeply affected Russia in space.

Yuri Borisov, who was appointed to lead the state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos earlier this month, said during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin that Russia would fulfil its obligations to other partners before it leaves the project.”

Mr Borisov said, “the decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made”.

The US, however, says no such move has been communicated to NASA.”

It comes amid continued tensions between Moscow and the West over the war in Ukraine.”

In April, Mr Borisov’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia would halt co-operation on the ISS in response to the sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine.”

He argued the sanctions were designed “to kill the Russian economy, plunge our people into despair and hunger, and bring our country to its knees” and said normal relations could only be restored with the unconditional lifting of the “illegal” measures.”

Despite heightened tensions, NASA and Roscosmos agreed earlier this month for astronauts to continue riding Russian rockets and for cosmonauts to catch lifts to the ISS with SpaceX beginning in autumn.”

The agreement will ensure the space station will always have at least one American and one Russian on board to keep both sides of the orbiting outpost running smoothly, NASA and Russian officials said.”

And what will Russia do after leaving the ISS? Build their own space station, exactly as China has begun to do. Space may be infinite up there, but suddenly the orbit around the Earth is feeling a little crowded.

In order to keep the International Space Station running, it has required both the United States and Russia to cooperate.

The ISS, which is a collaboration among the US, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency, is divided into two sections — the Russian Orbital Segment and the US Orbital Segment. The Biden administration announced in December that it was committed to extending the ISS from 2024 to 2030. But Russia — NASA’s number one partner at the ISS — never signed onto it.”

“The Russian segment can’t function without the electricity on the American side, and the American side can’t function without the propulsion systems that are on the Russian side,” former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman told CNN in February. “So you can’t do an amicable divorce. You can’t do a conscious uncoupling.”

Since then, NASA has been exploring ways of moving the space station without the assistance of the Russian segment. In June, a Cygnus cargo spacecraft demonstrated its ability to raise the station’s orbit. But whether the ISS would be able to survive without the Russians is still an open question.”

Now, a lot of things could change in two years. There are no guarantees about the outcome of the war in Ukraine. Are we absolutely certain that Vladimir Putin will still be alive in 2024? What can SpaceX create in two years that would be inifitely better and completely American-controlled? Where the heck is the Space Force in all of this? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to actually put our space military branch IN TO SPACE? I know, it’s a wild and crazy idea.

Watching documentaries and reading up on the Apollo missions has inspired my 12 year old son on space exploration. I feel pretty confident in saying that when he hears this news, his opinion will be that the United States needs to suck it up and start working harder on exploring space. (He also wanted to go to Mars to get away from his brothers; I told him no. We compromised on asking his uncle, who works for Blue Origin, if he can hitch a ride on a New Shepard flight instead.) If Russia plans on taking all their toys and going home, then the United States needs to start being more deliberate and creative. Forget trying to make the ISS work without the Russian propulsion system. Start making plans as if Russia will follow through on this threat. Let’s send the ISS to its planned demise in the Pacific Ocean without trying to coax the Russians into staying. The technology that we use here on earth keeps jumping forward, and it’s time to upgrade what we use in space (the ISS began hosting crews in 2000, before the first iPhone was even invented or used).

While this might feel like a diplomatic loss, we can turn it into a win for American independence, engineering, and ingenuity. We just have to find the political will to do so – which means that Joe Biden is likely to try begging first, just like asking OPEC and Saudi Arabia for more oil. Again, the midterms can’t come fast enough.

Welcome Instapundit Readers!

Featured image: International Space Station (NASA.gov via Wikimedia Commons, cropped, public domain)

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1 Comment
  • Hate_me says:

    This is one of those cases where I’d prefer the Biden administration did absolutely nothing.

    Everything that man touches, he makes worse. I can think of no more guaranteed way to revisit the Challenger disaster than expecting Kandahar Joe to direct the space program.

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