Russia to oust USA from International Space Station

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Russia is to deny the US use of the International Space Station beyond 2020 and will also bar its rocket engines from launching US military satellites as it hits back at American sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.

The twin moves against the space and satellite programmes represent one high-tech niche in which Moscow believes it has leverage over the US.

English: The International Space Station is fe...

“The Russian segment of the ISS can exist independently from the US one, but the US segment cannot exist independently from the Russian one,” said Dmitry Rogozin, deputy prime minister, pointing to the fact that the US can no longer send astronauts to the station on its own. The US space shuttle fleet retired in 2011 as a result of Nasa funding cuts.

The announcement could curb Russian-American co-operation in areas so far unimpeded by the increasingly poisonous political climate between the two countries.

As Moscow’s stand-off with Ukraine escalated in recent months into the worst falling-out with the west since the Cold War, both US and Russian diplomats had noted that the two powers continued to “do business” pragmatically in areas of global significance. “Space is obviously no longer part of that,” said one western diplomat.

Washington last month decided to revoke export licences for technology goods that can be used militarily by Russia and to refuse to extend new ones. Washington is also considering new restrictions on the export of high-tech equipment to develop Russia’s energy resources.

Moscow’s move against the ISS came in the form of a rejection of a US request to use the station beyond 2020. The ISS, jointly maintained by several countries, has been continuously manned by rotating missions for more than 13 years and is used for research, some of which is considered vital for further space exploration.

Assuming Russia does not reconsider, its decision could strengthen China, which aims to have its own space station by 2020 and is currently excluded from the ISS – chiefly because of opposition from the US.

Mr Rogozin said Moscow would not impose sanctions of its own, and would not obstruct the work of US astronauts. However, he called the US an “unreliable” technology partner and said the government was therefore seeking to intensify work with other countries.

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Categories: Escalation / Destabilization Conflict

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