Political eclipse of International Space Station. U.S. lawmakers react to Russian statements on the future of the orbiting complex. Credit: NASA

Political eclipse of International Space Station. U.S. lawmakers react to Russian statements on the future of the orbiting complex.
Credit: NASA

The series of measures taken by the U.S. in response to Russia’s actions in the Crimea has stirred up Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin.

Rogozin has stated that Russia intends to reject a U.S. request to prolong the use of the International Space Station (ISS) beyond 2020. He also suggested that Russia could use the ISS without the United States.

These comments by the Russian leader have sparked a letter to NASA’s Charles Bolden from Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Space Subcommittee Vice Chairman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

Political division

“Our international space partnerships, including our partnership with Russia, have historically endured political division,” the Congressmen wrote. “But Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin’s statements raise serious concerns about the strength of those partnerships.”

With the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the cancellation of the Constellation program, the United States currently has no domestic capability to transport our astronauts to and from the ISS. 

“As we move forward, it is important that we fully understand our nation’s independent capabilities with regard to ISS operations,” the letter states.

“While this new development is not related to access to the ISS for our astronauts in the next few years, it certainly pertains to the strength of our partnership with Russia. If Mr. Rogozin’s statement proves to be accurate, we will have to take a step back and evaluate the costs and benefits of maintaining ISS beyond 2020 without our Russian partners.”

To read the full letter from the lawmaker to NASA’s Bolden, go to:

http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/Letters/051514_Russia_Sanctions.pdf

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