Sunday, April 3, 2022

Russian Space Agency Says It Will End Space Station Support

This has been coming for a while but Saturday, Dmitry Rogozin announced via Twitter that Russia would suspend cooperation with NASA and other space agencies in maintaining the International Space Station (ISS). 

Rogozin said that the “restoration of normal relations between partners” on the ISS would only be possible with the “complete and unconditional lifting of illegal sanctions.”

I open by saying this has been coming both because of what has already been reported here, as well as just learning that Rogozin set a deadline of March 31 for the West to drop sanctions against Russia or Roscosmos would abandon support of the ISS.  He announced his response via Twitter on April 2nd.  That Twitter thread seems to be largely in Russian, except for letters he included from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, The Canadian Space Agency's Lisa Campbell, and The Director General of the European Space Agency (whose name I can't read).  

Nelson's response was pledging his ongoing support for the space station but reiterating that the sanctions will not end.  Nelson presumably already knows, as we've covered here, that NASA would most likely not be at risk of losing the space station and could keep it flying even if Russia abruptly pulls out.  In any sort of critical design, like all manned spaceflight, redundant, independent backups dominate the design approach. 

His letter also includes this interesting little statement:  “New and existing U.S. export control measures continue to allow cooperation between the U.S. and Russia to ensure continued safe operations of the ISS.”  The European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency have similar sanctions carve-outs for Russia when it comes to supplying and maintaining the ISS.  Rogozin’s threats are more related to Russia’s psychological war against the West than a reaction to the sanctions.

Unlike Rogozin's, Nelson's letter holds no bluster or threats, but instead offers an olive branch. While the US will not lift its sanctions, Nelson writes, if the Russian space industry needs Western components to support the flights of Russian Soyuz or Progress vehicles to the space station, NASA will work to facilitate such technology transfers. "Sustaining safe and successful ISS operations remains a priority for the United States," Nelson writes.

While the news echoes the mistaken conclusion that we have no way of correcting the ISS's orbit without Russia, (including the PJ Media piece), the really important thing to bear in mind is that nothing has happened yet.  Rogozin and the thousands of employees at Roscosmos have taken precisely zero concrete actions that would actually initiate pulling the plug on ISS.  Remember the allegations that they were going to abandon astronaut Mark Vande Hei on the ISS?   I've seen nobody mention that he returned from orbit on a Soyuz capsule to Kazakhstan, exactly as usual, with American and Russian workers and officials on site, exactly as usual. 

Dmitry Rogozin - AP file photo by Pavel Golovkin 


  1. And now we get to find out how much the US was supporting the Russian space agency.

    As to Roscosmos, the last two 'additions' to the ISS almost wrecked it.

  2. Does this mean that there will be fewer holes poked in the ISS and that there won't be as many boosts into the wrong orbit? Oh darn.

  3. We should never have allowed ourselves to become dependent on them in the first place. Just as we should never have allowed ourselves to become dependent on the CCP for anything either.

    1. Thank Slick. He could not tolerate any space station named "Freedom" and had to make sure we shoveled money to the Russian oligarchs. Just as Obammy did with the geraniums!!!

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  5. Rogozin is probably drinking himself to death. After turning Elon Musk down (he just wanted to buy a booster) the Russians have watched him go his own way and make them a has-been space power.

    Rogozin is an extreme nationalist and has been involved in political fighting most of his life. When Musk was shopping for a Russian rocket, he was head of the Rodina, a political faction support Russian supremacy.

    All indications are that personally he is a serious jerk. He was the one who said the US could use a trampoline to get to the space station. He has called for taking back Alaska and the Aleutians, by force if necessary.

    Let him disconnect from the station and let the Russian half crash in the ocean. We are better off without it. Just hook up one Starship-based "trampoline" to the empty connector port and double the size of the station, no Russian involvement necessary. It's time to let Russia stew in its own juices.

  6. Bill Nelson is a hack. His words were carefully written by Bidens handlers. It takes only one look at the atrocities committed by Putins forces on Ukranian civilians to know that all US support of Russian space operations must end, even if it is Russias need of a single bolt. nut or washer.