Russia Says They Plan to Leave International Space Station after 2024

International Space Station
The International Space Station stretches out in an image captured by astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly-around in November 2021. (NASA Photo)

According to Russia’s news agency Tass, leaders at Roscosmos have decided to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024. The report said that by that time, “all obligations to partners will be fulfilled.” Additionally, Russia said they want to build their own space station.

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The ExoMars Rover is Ready, now it Just Needs a new Ride to Mars

An artist's illustration of the ExoMars/Rosalind Franklin rover on Mars. Image Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

When it arrives on Mars, the ESA’s Rosalind Franklin rover will join a growing fleet of robotic rovers, landers, and orbiters dedicated to searching for life on Mars. As part of the Exomars program, this mission was a collaborative effort between the ESA and the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos). Whereas the ESA would provide the rover, Roscosmos was to provide the launch services and the Kazachok lander that would deliver Rosalind Franklin to the surface.

After many years of development, testing, and some delays, the Rosalind Franklin rover passed its System Qualification and Flight Acceptance Review in March. The Review Board confirmed that the rover was ready to be shipped to the launch site at Baikonur Cosmodrome and would make the launch window opening on September 20th, 2022. Unfortunately, due to the suspension of cooperation with Roscosmos, the ESA’s rover finds itself stranded on Earth for the time being.

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Starship Could be Ready for an Orbital Flight in May

Starship and Super Heavy
SpaceX's Starship and Super Heavy booster stand tall on the Starbase launch pad in Texas. Source: SpaceX via YouTube

SpaceX has enjoyed a lot of wins in the past few years. In addition to successfully glide-testing and landing multiple Starship prototypes, they’ve rolled out its first Super Heavy boosters, test-fired the new Raptor Vacuum engines, and assembled the “Mechazilla” launch tower at Boca Chica, Texas. They also unveiled the first fully-furbished orbital test vehicle (SN20) that was stacked with a first stage booster for the first time on its launch pad.

Given the prodigious rate of progress, few were surprised when Musk announced that the first orbital flight test could take place as soon as January 2022. Unfortunately, this date had to be pushed back to an environmental assessment and the usual bureaucratic rigmarole. However, Musk recently announced on Twitter that in light of his company’s success with the new Raptor engines, they could be ready to conduct the long-awaited orbital test flight this May.

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ExoMars is Suspended. ESA is Looking for new Solutions to Replace Russian Components

Coordination between countries in space exploration is widespread.  However, sometimes that coordination falls apart.  In most cases, that failure is due to budgetary constraints. But in more recent times, it is due to geopolitical ones.  Specifically, western space agencies have begun to cut ties with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, on every program excluding the International Space Station, which is still operating normally.  One of those project casualties is the timeline of the oft-delayed Exomars rover, Rosalind Franklin.  

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Wondering how Dependant ISS is on Russia? NASA Gives the Details

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a flyaround of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on Nov. 8, 2021. Credit: NASA/ESA

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been dominating the news cycle lately. Amid tragic stories about rocket strikes, stalled offensives, and possible motives and outcomes, there’s been an ongoing “war of words” on social media. In particular, Dmitry Rogozin, the Director-General of the Russian State Space Corporation (Roscosmos), has been issuing thinly-veiled threats that Russia might be terminating its cooperation in space.

This included a video posted on Telegram by the state-controlled Russian news agency RIA Novosti that shows the Russian modules detaching from the International Space Station (ISS). In response to all the threats and hyperbole, NASA decided to host an FAQ session where they posted commonly-asked questions about the ISS. In what is eerily reminiscent of what happened in 2014, NASA let the world know that the ISS is still going strong and won’t be decommissioned anytime soon!

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Russian Space Agency Employees are now Forbidden to Travel Outside Russia (Because They Might not Come Back)

The Soyuz MS-05 rocket is launched with Expedition 52 flight engineer Sergei Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos, flight engineer Randy Bresnik of NASA, and flight engineer Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency), Friday, July 28, 2017 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

As Russia wages its terrible war against its neighbour Ukraine, the deteriorating situation inside Russia is leading many Russians to flee the collapsing economy. According to Russian journalist Kamil Galeev, Roscosmos Director Dmitry Rogozin is prohibiting Roscosmos employees from leaving the increasingly isolated nation.

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Russian Space Agency Tweets a Bizarre Video Showing the Russian Modules Detaching From ISS

The International Space Station in orbit round Earth. Credit: NASA

The world is on high alert because of the unfolding crisis between Ukraine and Russia. Ever since Russian troops began deploying to the border regions between the two countries, there have been fears that conflict would ensue. Since the invasion began, there have also been genuine anxieties that it could spill over into neighboring states and even escalate to the point of a nuclear standoff. In the midst of all this, there have also been worries about the toll it might take on international efforts in space.

The International Space Station (ISS) is made possible through the cooperative efforts and funding of its participating space agencies – NASA (U.S.), Roscosmos (Russia), the ESA (Europe), the CSA (Canada), and JAXA (Japan). As such, it was rather curious when Russian state media company RIA Novosti posted a video online that showed Russian cosmonauts packing up and detaching the Russian segment from the ISS. Whether this represents a threat or a prediction, the message is clear: cooperation in space may be the next casualty of this war!

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Germany’s Space Agency Cancels all its Projects With Russia. They Even Turned off an Instrument on a Russian Space Telescope

This image is an artist's illustration of the Spektr-RG satellite. Germany shut down the eROSITA instrument in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Image Credit:By DLR German Aerospace Center - https://www.flickr.com/photos/dlr_de/48092069898/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87145461

Germany is flexing its muscles.

The German government recently announced a massive increase in military spending to counter Russian military action in Europe. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has cancelled its bilateral cooperation with Russia following that move. It looks like the Spektr-RG space telescope, a joint mission between Russia and Germany, is the first casualty of the cancelled partnership.

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If Russia Backs out of the ISS, SpaceX Could Help Keep the Station Operational

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has wide-reaching implications, not only in the geopolitical sphere but also outside of the atmosphere.  On the International Space Station (ISS), Russians work alongside astronauts from other countries that are currently imposing economic and trade sanctions in an attempt to force their country to stop their invasion of their neighbor.  It was only a matter of time before that conflict escalated to the point of arguments over the ISS, but this time an unlikely hero appeared to defend the interests of Western nations – Elon Musk.

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Europe’s ExoMars Rover Will Likely Miss This Year’s Launch Window Because of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Artist's impression of ESA’s ExoMars rover (foreground) and Russia’s stationary surface science platform (background) on the surface of Mars. Artist's impression of ESA’s ExoMars rover (foreground) and Russia’s stationary surface science platform (background) on the surface of Mars. Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

As countries around the world respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with sanctions aimed at crippling Moscow and Vladimir Putin, the global cooperation in space exploration that has been forged over the past 30-plus years will certainly be impacted.

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