The head of Russia’s space agency said it would instead focus on building its own space station and will pursue cooperative efforts with the Chinese space program instead of NASA.
According to NBC News:
The head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, told President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that the country would exit the ISS and focus on building its own space station, according to state media.
“The decision on withdrawal from this station after 2024 has been made,” newly appointed Roscosmos head Yuri Borisov said, according to the Tass news agency.
Construction of the outpost in low-Earth orbit began in 1998 and was completed in 2011. It has been hailed as an example of reconciliation between the longtime adversaries, but has now felt the impact of a renewed earthly confrontation.
That agreement over the aging space station runs out in 2024. And Russian officials have previously hinted that they would let the agreement expire to work on their own Russian orbital station, which they hope will be operational in 2025.
On Tuesday, Borisov, who was appointed director of Russia’s space agency this month, confirmed to Putin that he intended to do just that. Borisov said that Russia would fulfill its obligations to its partners before departing, according to Tass.
He said that Roscosmos’ main aim should be to “raise the bar” and provide the country with “necessary space services,” such as global navigation, communication and meteorological data. The space “industry is in a difficult situation,” Tass quoted him as saying.
NASA and Roscosmos were the two main partners responsible for building and operating the ISS, with the European Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency also involved.
However, tensions between Russia and the West, heightened by the invasion of Ukraine, have also soured space relations.
Three Russian cosmonauts blasted off to the ISS in March. And Roscosmos published photos this month appearing to show those cosmonauts holding the flag of Luhansk, one of the self-declared republics that Russia helped split from Ukraine in 2014 and had just claimed to have fully captured in the current conflict.
Former head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin has regularly hit out at Western sanctions against Russia, saying they could cause the ISS to crash into the United States.