Russia commits to extending the ISS until 2028

The Russian government has agreed to continue its participation in the International Space Station until at least 2028, the latest partner to agree to extend the station’s operation.

NASA announced on April 27 that Russia has confirmed that it will support the station until 2028. The other partners — NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency — had previously agreed to maintain the station beyond 2024 to 2030.

On April 25, Roscosmos announced that the head of the agency Yuriy Borisov sent letters to the heads of the other space agencies involved in the ISS, informing them that the Russian government had agreed to the extension of the deadline.

“The ISS program is the largest and most successful international project in the field of space, and I am glad that such a unique laboratory will continue its work and contribute to the realization of humanity’s most daring ideas in space exploration,” he said. said in translated notes posted by Roscosmos on social media.

“The International Space Station is an incredible partnership with a shared goal of advancing science and exploration,” Robin Gaten, director of the ISS Division at NASA Headquarters, said in a NASA statement. “Extending our time on this amazing platform allows us to capitalize on more than two decades of experiments and technology demonstrations and continue to make even greater discoveries.”

Russia’s future on the station was uncertain as Roscosmos discussed plans to develop its national space station in the second half of the 2020s. Shortly after being appointed head of Roscosmos in July 2022, Borisov said Russia would leave the partnership “after 2024,” which many interpreted as immediately after 2024.

Borisov soon softened those remarks, saying that Russia would leave sometime after 2024. He was skeptical, though, that Russia would be involved by 2030, a date set by NASA and accepted by other partners, citing a lack of research it would need to do on the health of the station and some of the station’s aging modules.

Other Roscosmos offered similar remarks. “‘After 2024′ could mean 2025, 2028 or 2030,” Sergey Krikalev, executive director of Roscosmos’ human spaceflight programs, said at a NASA briefing in August. “The decision to terminate the program will be made based on the technical condition of the station and the evaluation of the results.”

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson did not mention the Russian announcement in April 27 testimony to the House Science Committee on the agency’s fiscal year 2024 budget request, but emphasized, as he has repeatedly done since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, a good working relationship. continues with Roscosmos.

“We built it together, and we have to operate it together,” he said of the U.S.-Russia partnership on the station. “Today it continues without a hitch.”

The collaboration continues, he said later in the hearing, despite technical problems such as coolant leaks in the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft while they docked at the station. “We think they’re on top,” he said. “I can’t tell if it’s a design problem or a manufacturing problem.” He added that NASA, working with Roscosmos, had “pretty well ruled out” that it was caused by a micrometeoroid impact, Russia’s initial explanation for the Soyuz leak in December.

“There hasn’t been an issue of transparency between the two of us,” he said of the relationship with the space station. “We built the station together. We run it together. Both astronauts and cosmonauts know that we must continue to work together to keep the crew safe.

He said the cooperation required an extension of the long-standing sanctions waiver under the Iran-North Korea-Syria Non-Proliferation Act (INSNA) so NASA could provide funding to Russia. This waiver was originally due to payments for Soyuz seats that NASA purchased from Roscosmos, but today the seats are swapped between agencies with commercial crew vehicles that are now operational.

Nelson did not directly answer a question at the hearing about the need for another INKSNA extension by Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), but reiterated the need for integrated crews on Soyuz and commercial crew vehicles to ensure NASA and Roscosmos. station presence.

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