Space chief: No ISS pullout before Russia has own space station in orbit
Updated 17:30, 31-Jul-2022
A view of the International Space Station. /NASA

A view of the International Space Station. /NASA

The head of Russia's space agency said Friday that the country has not set a date for pulling out of the International Space Station (ISS) program, noting that Russia would only do so after it puts its own space station in orbit.

Yuri Borisov, who was appointed this month to lead the Roscosmos state space corporation, told President Vladimir Putin this week that a decision was made for Russia to leave the station after 2024 and focus on building its own orbiting station.

NASA and its partners hope to continue operating the 24-year-old ISS until 2030, and the Russian announcement has thrown that plan into doubt.

Speaking on Friday, Borisov said Russia will start the process of leaving the station after 2024 but the exact timing would depend on the ISS's status.

"The termination of work on the ISS and the start of work on the Russian station undoubtedly should be synchronized," Borisov said, adding that the Russian pullout could take up to two years.

A view of the International Space Station. /NASA

A view of the International Space Station. /NASA

Russia has started designing the new station, but space officials haven't said when it could be launched.

Borisov's predecessor Dmitry Rogozin said last month that Moscow could take part in negotiations about a possible extension of the station's operations only if the U.S. lifted its sanctions against Russian space industries.

However, Borisov insisted his agency's decision wasn't related to politics. "There are no political aspects here, and I believe there shouldn't be any," he said.

"The ISS has enriched science with knowledge about Earth and about the universe and brought us all together," Borisov said.

"Such projects should stay away from politics. I'm sorry that our joint space projects that are important for the entire humankind are getting a political tinge. It's wrong."

NASA officials said they had yet to hear directly from their Russian counterparts on the matter. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson issued a statement saying the agency was "committed to the safe operation" of the space station through 2030 and continues "to build future capabilities to assure our major presence in low-Earth orbit."

(With input from AP)

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