According to state media, Russia may soon announce the end of its partnership with the United States and the rest of its partners on the International Space Station (ISS). Two main reasons could explain this hasty departure.
On November 2, 2000, the astronaut of the NASA Bill Shepherd and the two Russian cosmonauts, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, docked at the ISS for the very first time. Since then, the station, born out of a desire to ease geopolitical tensions in the aftermath of the Cold War, has been continuously occupied for more than twenty years. To date, nearly 250 people from 19 different countries have stayed there, and more than 3,000 scientific surveys have been carried out, involving 108 countries.
That said, and just like the rest of us, the International Space Station is aging. Keeping it in working order is also costly. Also, the ISS will soon be abandoned. Initially, the main operating nations had set the bar at 2024. Finally, the US Senate recently approved an extension until 2030. For its part, Russia seems to want to move on.
A start in 2025?
It is in any case the rumor which circulates. A few days ago, state media quoted a senior government official as having visibly declared that Russia would withdraw from the ISS by 2025. This departure, if confirmed, could be precipitated by the state of the Russian modules of the station. In recent years, several air leaks have indeed been detected and then sealed.
“We need a technical inspection of the station to avoid any risk in an emergency”, a declared Borisov’s office at the state-run TASS news agency. “We will make a decision based on the results and honestly inform our partners”, he added.
This possible departure could also be linked to the recent announcement of a partnership between China and Russia aimed at building a research station on and / or around the Moon.
This latest agreement indeed suggests that the lasting relationship maintained by NASA and Roscosmos (Russian space agency) for decades could soon reach a breaking point, with a “space race” now involving on one side the The United States and its partners, and China and Russia on the other.
The International Space Station, ultimately, would only be the last piece of “scotch” connecting the two nations in space. And obviously Russia, whose space program has fallen behind in recent years due to underfunding and corruption scandals, could be the one to “rip off the bandage” first, preferring to get closer to China, a new major actress. of space exploration.