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Russia has lost its power over NASA and in the space sector: experts

Russia has lost its power over NASA and in the space sector: experts

Russia continues to downgrade its role in the space industry, moving away from international customers to which it has long supplied space resources because President Vladimir Putin has refused to back down from the attack on Ukraine.

Since Russia began its invasion last week, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency Dmitry Rogozin has refused to launch payloads from a British satellite company and stopped supplying Russian-made rocket engines to American customers and threatened to sever ties with its International Space Station partners, including NASA.

The most sensitive current space policy issue is the International Space Station.

For more than 20 years, NASA and Russia have worked together to build and maintain the laboratory in orbit 200 miles above Earth. The first modules were American and Russian. The first two astronauts to enter the space station when the lights were turned on were an American and Russian cosmonaut together, an intentional choice of STS-88 mission commander Robert Cabana.

Russia’s space program could lose all access to the International Space Station as the United States and other countries refuse to partner with the warring nation.
NASA via AP

When the space shuttle program ended, the United States lost its ride to space for American astronauts. He started buying seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft for more than $80 million for nine years until SpaceX began launching astronauts under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Since Elon Musk’s company began launching Americans from Florida in May 2020, NASA had bought fewer seats from Russia and was negotiating for a cosmonaut to launch on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon when the invasion of Ukraine began.


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Rogozin threatened to withdraw from the ISS altogether and ended in-orbit science activities between cosmonauts and their international astronaut counterparts.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V two-stage rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida for Boeing's orbital flight test, Dec. 20, 2019.
US astronauts may no longer be allowed to board Russian planes in space.
NASA/Mike Vrbanic

University of Central Florida space policy expert Roger Handberg said Russia has lost the upper hand.

“They don’t get any money because a lot of their space program had sold seats for Soyuz missions to the United States,” Handberg said. “The Russians lost influence, as you say, over the United States because they provided access. Now we have independent access.

In April, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei are expected to undock from the space station with two cosmonauts and return to Earth aboard a Russian spacecraft landing in Kazakhstan. He could be the last American to fly on a Russian vehicle if the relationship deteriorates.

A Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster carrying British OneWeb satellites is transported to a launch pad in Kazakhstan on March 2, 2022.
A Soyuz-2.1b rocket booster carrying British OneWeb satellites is transported to a launch pad in Kazakhstan on March 2, 2022.
RoscosmosTASS Press Office via Getty Images

Second, the United States, Europe and Japan are working to extend the life of the ISS to 2030, but Russia only committed to 2024, and those negotiations were also in progress. Classes.

If Russia gives up by 2030, that’s where things get complicated.

“Does that mean we have to dismantle and remove their modules? That’s kind of a complicated question. We’re not there yet,” Handberg said.

The International Space Station
The Russian space program has promised to maintain the International Space Station until 2024.
Nasa

Since the end of the shuttle program, the ISS has relied on Russian spacecraft to lift the space station and move it around in debris avoidance maneuvers.

However, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft might be able to take on the job. A Cygnus recently docked with the ISS will perform America’s first in-orbit reboost test, potentially offering an alternative option.

If Russia chooses to take immediate action and sever ties with its partners on the International Space Station, it’s unclear how that would work. The ISS was not designed to be divided.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with NASA's Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) spacecraft aboard Launch Complex 39A, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, at 1:00 a.m. EST, from Kennedy Space Center in La NASA in Florida.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX set to contribute more to US space travel as NASA ditches Russians.
NASA/Cover Images/INSTARimages.com

“A lot of things are connected. So do we no longer have the right to use the Russian modules on this space station? Or vice versa, we don’t allow them to use our modules,” Handberg said.

“In the confined circumstances they find themselves in, it gets quite bizarre.”

Handberg thinks Russia is locked in the ISS until 2024, but there is still uncertainty with Putin.