Rogozin delays decision on the future of the space station

DENVER — After Western nations rejected his call to end sanctions on Russian companies involved in the International Space Station, the head of Roscosmos said he would make recommendations on Russia’s continued involvement in the station in the “near future,” but there is no evidence of any short-term changes in station operations.

Dmitry Rogozin had given the United States and other western nations until March 31 to lift sanctions on two Russian companies, TsNIMash and Rocket and Space Center Progress, that support ISS operations. Rogozin warned in March he would make a decision if sanctions were not lifted, but declined to elaborate on the decision.

in the a long twitter thread April 2ndRogozin published letters he received from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Canadian Space Agency President Lisa Campbell, and European Space Agency Director General Josef Aschbacher. As expected, no one announced that the sanctions would be lifted.

Nelson stated in his letter that “US export control measures continue to allow for cooperation between the US and Russia to ensure continued safe operations of the ISS.” NASA said in February when the White House imposed its first sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine that the ISS was exempt from the sanctions.

Campbell said her agency has no “direct working relationships” with the sanctioned Russian companies but would work with the Canadian government to ensure safe ISS operations. Aschbacher replied that sanctions are the responsibility of ESA’s 22 member states.

“I consider this state of affairs unacceptable,” Rogozin said in a translation of his Russian-language tweets. “I believe that restoring normal relations between partners in the International Space Station and other joint projects is only possible with the full and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions.”

However, he took no step to end the current collaboration on the ISS, despite some media reports to the contrary. Instead, he said Roscosmos would make proposals to the Russian leadership “in the near future” on “the timing of completing cooperation” on the ISS.

NASA officials have stressed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine that there have been no changes in the day-to-day operations of the ISS. This included the March 30 landing of a Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei along with two Russian cosmonauts. Salvage operations in Kazakhstan looked no different from previous Soyuz landings, and Vande Hei was back in Houston about 24 hours after landing on a NASA jet.

“I was really excited to see Mark Vande Hei land,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said in an interview March 30 hours after he landed. “It just goes to show that this is a very professional relationship on both sides and we’re going about the business of the space station.”

Those routine operations include talks with Roscosmos and other partners to expand ISS operations from 2024 to 2030. Kathy Lueders, NASA Deputy Administrator for Space Operations, said that a multilateral ISS Partners Oversight Committee meeting is planned for June to discuss partners’ efforts to extend the ISS to 2030. “All our international partners, including Roscosmos, are doing it Progress toward station expansion by 2030,” she said at a March 31 briefing on the Crew-4 mission to the station, which is scheduled to launch April 20.

“We are certainly not immune to the geopolitical situation right now. These are very challenging times,” NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, commander of Crew-4, said at a briefing later in the day. He said he and his crew are focused on operations and research on the space station. “We’re really looking forward to getting into orbit and working with our Russian colleagues and our friends up there, to have a safe and successful mission, and to get everyone home safely.”

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