Russia To Leave International Space Station After 2024

Russia To Leave International Space Station After 2024

Russia will leave the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024, the nation’s new space chief announced Tuesday.

Yuri Borisov, selected earlier this month to lead Russia’s space agency, noted that the nation intends to fulfill its current obligations before leaving the ISS to focus on building its own space station.

“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said, according to the Associated Press. “I think that by that time we will start forming a Russian orbiting station.”

The ISS is run by the space agencies of the U.S., Russia, Japan, Europe, and Canada. First launched in 1998, the station has been in operation for more than two decades.

The station usually holds a crew of seven members, with three Russians, three Americans, and one Italian currently aboard.

Robyn Gatens, the Director of the ISS Division at NASA, said Tuesday that she has not yet received an official notice from Roscosmos regarding the change, according to Fox News.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren also told The New York Times on Tuesday that nothing has been shared officially regarding Russia’s planned change regarding the ISS.

“That is very recent news,” he said, “and so we haven’t heard anything officially. Of course, you know, we were trained to do a mission up here, and that mission is one that requires the whole crew.”

The announcement follows months of concern that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine would lead to changes in its space agency’s international partnerships. Russia has increasingly isolated itself politically from the U.S. and Western European nations following sanctions over its actions in Ukraine.

Russia’s politics have already caused controversy aboard the ISS. Earlier this month, three Russian cosmonauts were shown in a photograph aboard the space station with a flag from the Luhansk People’s Republic. The region is one of the areas of Ukraine under invasion by Putin and largely under the control of a Russia-backed separatist group.

Russia has also taken a financial hit since Elon Musk’s SpaceX began transporting astronauts to the ISS. Roscosmos had previously earned millions of dollars per passenger on its Russian-made rockets.

NASA’s plans include operating the ISS through 2030. Those efforts may now require a change or revision without Russia’s support.

The report also comes just days after China launched Sunday the first of two remaining modules needed to complete its first permanent orbiting space station.

When completed, the modules will become the T-shaped Tiangong Space Station. The station will be smaller than the International Space Station but large enough to hold six crew members for a temporary period.

The first crew to board the new space station is expected to launch in December.