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Russia will leave the International Space Station at the end of 2024 and start construction on its own orbital base, officials announced Tuesday.
Yuri Borisov, a former deputy prime minister and deputy defense minister appointed earlier this month to lead the state-controlled Roscosmos, said Russia will meet its obligations to other ISS partners before pulling out of the project.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Borisov said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The declaration comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and the US over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. NASA announced earlier this month that a Russian cosmonaut will be launched to the ISS in September aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon – which would mark the first time that Elon Musk’s company will transport a Russian on one of its space capsules.
Russian engineer Anna Kikina will depart from Kennedy Space Center in Florida alongside two American astronauts and another from Japan, NASA officials said. The space agency signed the deal with its Russian counterpart to exchange flights to the ISS, meaning American astronauts would hitch rides to the outpost aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
The deal had been in the works for some time and came a month after Putin fired Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, who had a Twitter spat with Musk in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
At the time, Roscomos said it would facilitate the “exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes,” the agency said in a statement to Reuters.
The managing editor of Meduza, an independent Russian- and English-language news site, said Borisov vowed to work on another orbital station while posting a blueprint of the new design.
“It looks like it would hold two cosmonauts,” Meduza’s Kevin Rothrock tweeted. “I assume this one won’t be named Mir (peace/world).”
Rogozin had announced in April that Russia would halt cooperation on the ISS in response to sanctions imposed for the invasion of Ukraine, Sky News reported.
Normal relations would only be restored if the “illegal measures” designed to “kill the Russian economy” were lifted, Rogozin reportedly said.
NASA, meanwhile, announced in February that the space station will be “de-orbited” in January 2031 after three decades and come hurtling down to Earth at 17,000 miles per hour. The 356-foot vessel, which has housed astronauts since 2000, is expected to crash into the South Pacific.
With Post wires