In the past, despite their political and territorial issues, the United States and Russia have enjoyed amicable relations in terms of space exploration. But because of recent events involving Ukraine and Crimea and the sanctions imposed on Russia by the Group of 7 (G7), it seems that this space partnership will soon be dissolved.
Early Wednesday this week, the crew headed by Koichi Wakata, the first Japanese to command a space mission in the International Space Station, landed safely in Kazakhstan. Wakata, joined by Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio were all very excited to be back on earth after a change-of-command ceremony saw NASA astronaut Steven Swanson head the station. Veteran Wakata has been on four space missions with more than 300 days total spent on space while Tyurin had been in space for six months. Swanson along with Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev will be in-charge of the station until the new crew arrives on May 28.
The International Space Station is a partnership between five space agencies headed by Russia and United States. While the $100-billion dollar project had been free from any taint of politics in terms of how it’s run in the past years, that will soon crumble with the economic sanctions imposed by the West upon Russia because of its annexation of Crimea, formerly of Ukraine. Russia’s deputy prime minister for space and defense Dmitry Rogozin announced on Tuesday that he would not agree to a proposal by the U.S. and Europe to extend the space station after 2020. This announcement came after Rogozin was included among the 11 officials sanctioned by the U.S. He also said he would prohibit the sale of Russian-made rocket engines used by the U.S. to launch its military satellites.
In spite of Rogozin’s announcements, NASA has yet to make an announcement as it waits for an official notification from Russia. In a statement issued by the U.S. space agency, “Space cooperation has been a hallmark of U.S.-Russia relations, including during the height of the Cold War, and most notably, in the past 13 consecutive years of continuous human presence on board the International Space Station.” They also said that the ISS is still continuing with their normal operations as of now.
[via GMA News]
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