Russia plans to withdraw from International Space Station after 2024

Moscow, Russia - Russia plans to withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) project after 2024, Yuri Borisov, the new head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Russia has announced it will pull out of the International Space Station by 2024.
Russia has announced it will pull out of the International Space Station by 2024.  © REUTERS

"Of course, we will fulfill all our obligations, but the decision to exit the station after 2024 has been made," said Borisov.

His predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, had recently repeatedly questioned the cooperation with the United States amid political tensions between Moscow and Washington in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Borisov said that the construction of a Russian space station should be started by the time of the exit.

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Previously, Rogozin had not ruled out the possibility of uncoupling the Russian module from the ISS and continuing to operate it independently.

In Washington, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said the Russian government had "not formally notified" the US of its intent to withdraw.

NASA did not respond to requests for comment.

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The ISS currently involves the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and member states of the European Space Agency.
The ISS currently involves the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and member states of the European Space Agency.  © REUTERS

In its current constellation, the ISS involves the US, Russia, Canada, Japan, and member states of the European Space Agency (ESA). Moscow's departure would bring major changes to the operation.

Even before Tuesday's announcement, it had been unclear what would become of the 24-year-old ISS in the coming years, as it gets closer to the end of its operating life. It has been beset by a growing number of technical issues.

There had been several indications that Moscow was likely to make such a move following Moscow's war on neighboring Ukraine, started five months ago.

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The ensuing sanctions, imposed by Western countries and affecting Russia's space industry, have prompted complaints by Roscosmos about major technical problems.

As Moscow prepares an independent space station mission, the chief designer of the Russian rocket builder Energiya, Vladimir Solovyov, said that the first module for the new Russian orbiting outpost could be launched into space in 2028, if a commitment is made by the end of the year.

The module could be launched with an Angara-A5M rocket from the Vostochny spaceport, he said.

Up until Moscow's announcement, the ISS was seen as a symbol of international cooperation, with US astronaut Thomas Marshburn calling it a place of peace in May as he handed over command to his Russian colleague Oleg Artemyev.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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