The Russian space agency has announced that will no longer work with global partners to conduct scientific research aboard the International Space Station (ISS), in response to sanctions against the country’s invasion of Ukraine. In a tweet, Roscosmos revealed that it “will not cooperate with Germany on joint experiments on the Russian segment of the ISS,” saying that it now intends to “conduct them independently.”
The ISS is currently manned by a crew consisting of Russian, American, and German personnel, yet the ongoing conflict has created a serious rift between Russia and the West. Initially, NASA had hoped to maintain its collaboration with Roscosmos and remained optimistic that operations aboard the space station would be able to proceed as normal.
However, the escalation of hostilities has cast a dark pall over the entire project and thrown its future into doubt.
Under the present agreement, the ISS is authorized to remain in operation until 2024, although NASA recently announced its intention to extend the project until 2030. Any continuation would need the support of all parties, though, and Russia’s exit from the collaboration may well scupper this plan.
"Roscosmos has permission from the government to operate the ISS only until 2024. And the issue of extending the agreement under the current conditions causes us skepticism," announced the Russian space agency in a recent press release reported by the state-owned Russian news service TASS. “The Russian space program will be adjusted against the backdrop of sanctions, the priority will be the creation of satellites in the interests of defense,” it added in its latest tweet.
These statements were made following sanctions imposed by the US and other nations, which President Biden says are likely to put a major dent into Russia’s military capacity as well as its space program. In response, Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin tweeted that without Russia, a controlled deorbit of the ISS may not be possible, and that the space station could crash down over the US.
Rogozin’s claim refers to the fact that Russian Progress spacecraft are expected to guide the space station safely back to Earth once it is retired.
In a further act of petulance, Roscosmos says it will no longer supply the RD-181 engines that power the Antares rocket, which is used by NASA to fly cargo and supplies to the ISS. Explaining this decision, Rogozin told Russian state television that “in a situation like this, we can’t supply the United States with our world’s best rocket engines.”
“Let them fly on something else, their broomsticks, I don’t know what.”