Russia says it is planning to pull out of the International Space Station and end its decades-long partnership with NASA at the orbiting outpost, according to the newly appointed head of Russia’s space agency.
Roscosmos chief Yury Borisov told Russian President Vladimir Putin that “the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made.”
“You know that we are working within the framework of international cooperation at the International Space Station. Undoubtedly, we will fulfil all our obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov told Putin in the Kremlin-issued readout.
NASA said in February it intends to keep operating the International Space Station until the end of 2030, after which the ISS would be deorbited and crashed into a remote part of the Pacific Ocean. Commercially operated space platforms would replace the ISS as a venue for collaboration and scientific research, NASA said.
“NASA is committed to the safe operation of the International Space Station through 2030, and is coordinating with our partners,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. NASA has not been made aware of decisions from any of the partners, though we are continuing to build future capabilities to assure our major presence in low-Earth orbit.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said news that Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station is “an unfortunate development given the critical scientific work performed at the ISS, the valuable professional collaboration our space agencies have had over the years, and especially in light of our renewed agreement on space-flight cooperation.”
This is not the first time that Russia has threatened to abandon the ISS amid crippling US and European sanctions over the war in Ukraine. Borisov’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, repeatedly threatened to do so before he was ousted earlier this month.
Scott Kelly, an American former ISS commander, believes the announcement may be mere posturing.