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Key Russian official confirms his country’s commitment to the space station

Roscosmos cosmonaut and Executive Director for Piloted Spaceflights Sergey Krikalev speaks during an astronaut panel discussion at the 70th International Astronautical Congress in 2019.
Enlarge / Roscosmos cosmonaut and Government Director for Piloted Spaceflights Sergey Krikalev speaks throughout an astronaut panel dialogue on the seventieth Worldwide Astronautical Congress in 2019.

NASA

A senior Russian official on Thursday mentioned that his nation’s house program intends to cooperate with NASA and different companions on the Worldwide House Station for so long as technically attainable.

Beforehand, NASA has mentioned it wish to fly the station by means of 2030, and it has constructed assist within the US Congress and White Home for such a plan. As a result of the present settlement solely runs by means of 2024, there have been questions on whether or not Russia would go together with an extension, particularly with heightened tensions surrounding the warfare in Ukraine.

Nonetheless, Sergei Krikalev, who serves as govt director of human spaceflight for Roscosmos, confirmed Thursday that his authorities and different international locations, together with the US, are having productive discussions about attainable extensions. He spoke by means of a translator at a information convention for an upcoming crew launch that features each NASA and Russian astronauts.

Russia’s participation within the house station past 2024 will rely on the well being of the orbiting laboratory total, in addition to the growing old Russian modules, Krikalev mentioned. “With a view to proceed previous that, the technical situation should be evaluated rigorously, which is now being carried out by the Russian specialists,” he mentioned. “In fact, the station could have an finish finally. However for now, we’re engaged on extending the operation on the ISS.”

Questions concerning the energy of the ISS partnership have popped up repeatedly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. SInce then, the Western world, together with NASA and the European House Company, have unwound a lot of their space-based relationships with Russia. However the house station, designed to be operated in tandem between NASA and Roscosmos, has held agency regardless of the political stress.

Krikalev’s measured feedback got here just a little greater than every week after the brand new director basic of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, mentioned Russia would not renew its present dedication to the house station after the present settlement ends in 2024.

Borisov has since walked again these feedback, however Krikalev was extra steadfast in his evaluation of the partnership.

“Cooperation is essential in a program like this for all companions,” Krikalev mentioned, in reference to Borisov’s feedback. “So far as the assertion about 2024, maybe one thing was misplaced in translation. However the assertion truly mentioned that Russia is not going to pull out of this system till after 2024. This implies up till the top of 2024, there might be no change. And after 2024, possibly 2025, possibly 2028 or 2030, a concrete determination about termination of this system might be made based mostly on the technical situation of the station and the consensus of all companions.”

Krikalev is a former cosmonaut who’s well-known to NASA and trusted by the company’s senior management. He’s a veteran of six spaceflights and has spent greater than 800 days in house. Twice, he flew on the house shuttle.

For her half, NASA’s senior official for human spaceflight operations, Kathy Lueders, additionally mentioned she believed that the partnership was in place regardless of the world’s messy geopolitics. She referenced a gathering of the Multilateral Management Board, which contains members of the station companions, that happened final week. There was assist “throughout the board” for persevering with to fly the house station collectively, Lueders mentioned. 

“These boards are the place we come collectively and speak collectively,” she mentioned. “It was very heartening to listen to the assist throughout the board of the partnership for us to proceed to work collectively in house.”

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