Russia tells that NASA’s space station withdrawal is less imminent than previously reported

The International Space Station (ISS) is photographed by the Expedition 56 crew of the Soyuz spacecraft after dismantling, October 4, 2018. NASA/Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

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A senior NASA official told Reuters on Wednesday that Russian space officials have told their American counterparts that Moscow wants to continue transporting its astronauts to the International Space Station at least until their orbital outpost is built.

Yuri Borisov, the newly appointed director general of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, surprised NASA on Tuesday by announcing that Moscow intends to end its long-term partnership with the space station “after 2024.” Read more

Russian officials told the US space agency later on Tuesday that Russia’s Roscosmos wanted to remain in the partnership while Russia operates its planned orbital position, called ROSS, NASA chief space operations officer Kathy Lueders said in an interview.

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“We are not getting any indication at any level of work that anything has changed,” Luders told Reuters, adding that NASA’s relations with Roscosmos remain “business as usual.”

The space station, a science laboratory that spans the size of a football field and orbits about 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth, has been continuously occupied for more than two decades under a partnership led by the United States and Russia that also includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

It represents one of the last bastions of cooperation between the United States and Russia, although its fate has been in question since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

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No formal agreement has yet been reached to extend Russia’s involvement beyond 2024. Luders said that NASA, Russia and other station partners plan to discuss the possibility of extending each other’s presence in the lab until 2030 during a regular meeting Friday of the board that oversees station management.

On its website, on Wednesday, Roscosmos published an interview with Vladimir Solovyov, flight director of the Russian section of the space station, who was quoted as saying that Russia should remain at the station until Russia works.

“We, of course, need to continue operating the ISS until we create a fairly tangible backlog of ROSS,” Solovyov said. “We must bear in mind that if we stop manned flights for several years, it will be very difficult to restore what has been achieved.”

The American and Russian parts of the space station were intentionally built to be technically interconnected and interconnected.

(This story corrects the headline to say “withdrawal is less imminent than previously stated,” not “hold on to the space station until at least 2028; and correct the first sentence to say “at least until its position in orbit is built,” at least until acquisition has been Construction of the outpost in orbit in 2028″)

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(Reporting by Joey Rowlett) Editing by Jonathan Otis and Will Dunham

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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