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Russia Threatens to Split From the Iss Program

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Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said before the parliament earlier this week that Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) program if the United States refuses to lift sanctions in the near future. The ISS was launched in 1998 and is divided into sections, one for the Russians, and the other for Americans and other space agencies.

“If the sanctions against Progress and TsNIIMash remain and are not lifted in the near future, the issue of Russia’s withdrawal from the ISS will be the responsibility of the American partners,” the space chief said.

“Either we work together, in which case the sanctions are lifted immediately, or we will not work together and we will deploy our own station,” he added.

“We have more than enough rockets but nothing to launch them with. We have spacecraft that are nearly assembled but they lack one specific microchip set that we have no way of purchasing because of the sanctions,” Rogozin admitted.

Under the Trump administration back in December 2020, the Commerce Department released a list of hundreds of Chinese and Russian companies with alleged ties to the military. JSC Rocket and Space Center Progress and JSC Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) was one of them. 

“The Department recognizes the importance of leveraging its partnerships with U.S. and global companies to combat efforts by China and Russia to divert U.S. technology for their destabilizing military programs, including by highlighting red flag indicators such as those related to Communist Chinese military companies identified by the Department of Defense,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross explained in December.

NASA’s new chief, Bill Nelson believes that “If Russia pulls out, it would not be good,” stating the former cold war rival’s importance in the ISS. 

“For decades, upwards now of 45 plus years [we’ve cooperated with] Russians in space, and I want that cooperation to continue,” Nelson said.

“I can tell you, whatever the politics is where we have a very strained relationship with Russia right now at the Putin level. I can tell you the workers, the space workers, they want to continue with the Americans,” Nelson added.

While it is understandable that the Russians are a vital part in this space program and that a space race may occur if they split from the United States, we have to prioritize America’s security first. Our interests in space are driven by our thirst for scientific wisdom and we need assurance that Russia will not be exploiting this venture for their military ambitions.

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