The International Space Station is at a crossroads. On Tuesday, Russia made its latest, most high-level threat to withdraw from the decades-old orbiting laboratory.
- Space is turning into a dangerous junkyard
- Astronauts on Commercial Mission Splash Down in Return From International Space Station
- NASA tests new asteroid-defense system even as it slashes funding for its mission to spot killer space rocks
- Space Force’s New Mission Statement: Time To Inform and Inspire
- Truce in orbit: The U.S. and Russia are strange bedfellows as they work to rescue stranded astronauts
“In some ways, this is just a continuation of what Russia has been saying for years, that they won’t commit to the station past 2024. But it does look like an elevation of the threat to leave, coming from the new head of Roscosmos,” said John Logsdon, an emeritus professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. NASA and Russia’s space agency work together hour-by-hour to keep the space station operating, he noted, so the notion that the issue of withdrawal has never come up in their daily discussions seems unlikely.
“NASA presumably has been making contingency plans with its European partners,” said Logsdon. “And by the same token, they have not discussed them publicly, in order to not set off the Russians.”
“The long isolation of ISS from geopolitics looks like it is regretfully coming to an end,” said NASA Watch Editor Keith Cowing. Russia’s war on Ukraine, and NASA no longer needing Russian rockets to send astronauts into orbit, has changed a long-running, uneasy, partnership in space, making it look less and less tenable. “The real question is, what are the Russians going to leave behind if they just walk away from the station?” Cowing added.
“NASA’s plans after ISS are to transition to the commercial sector. It’s not clear whether there’s a sustainable basis for commercial activities in space,” said Logsdon. “The space station has not proven to be the industrial or scientific success that was once promised.”
You are now signed up for our newsletter.
- What Ramadan really means to me — and nearly 2 billion MuslimsGrid
- France protests, explained in five words: ‘Life begins when work ends’Grid
- Medical residents nationwide are unionizing. What does that mean for the future of healthcare?Grid
- Ramadan fashion hits the runways. Muslim women say it’s been a long time coming.Grid
- Who is Shou Zi Chew – the TikTok CEO doing all he can to keep his app going in the U.S.?Grid
- The SVB collapse has made deposits more valuable than ever — and banks will have to compete for themGrid
- Ukraine War in Data: 74,500 war crimes cases — and countingGrid
- Can China really play a role in ending the war in Ukraine?Grid
- ‘No Dumb Questions’: What is Section 230?Grid
- Trump steers allies and opponents on the right to a new enemy: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin BraggGrid
- World in Photos: In France, no-confidence vote and fresh protestsGrid
- Bad Takes, Episode 32: The lesson elites should have learned from IraqGrid