Putin humiliated as plot to abandon NASA in ISS torn apart: ‘Not viable!’

ISS: Former NASA astronaut responds to Russian threats

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Last week, the Russian space agency Roscosmos shocked the world by finally making good on its threats and announcing a future withdrawal from the ISS. The space agency head Yuri Borisov noted that after 2024, Russia would fulfil all its obligations towards its partners in space, which includes NASA, and proceed to leave the orbital lab. He also noted that moving forward, Roscosmos would divert its attention towards developing a new Russian Orbital Space Station (ROSS).

Since the West hit Russia with sanctions, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos repeatedly threatened to abandon the ISS, evening suggesting that Russia could cause the 400-tonne station to crash to Earth. 

Russian-made modules constitute a critical part of the ISS, as Roscosmos operates six of the 17 modules of the orbital lab– including Zvezda, which houses the main engine system.

Space policy experts previously warned that Moscow has “full control and legal authority” over the modules, without which the station may not function. 

However, these threats to abandon the ISS may be empty, according to Wendy Whitman-Cobb, Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at Air University.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “It’s actually unclear whether they would be able to decouple.  

“Russia has been very vague about exactly what pulling out of the ISS would look like or mean.  

“They might allow the other partners to continue using the Russian modules or they might insist on shutting them down completely.  

“If that were the case, it’s still unclear whether the ISS would be able to function without them or successfully remove them.”

She added that even the actual timeline for Russia leaving the ISS is unclear. 

After announcing that Roscosmos would pull out sometime after 2024, they walked back on their statement, telling NASA that they would like to stay onboard until the ROSS is built, which would be 2028 at the earliest. 

Prof Whitman-Cobb dismissed these statements, noting that the delays in building the ROSS could lead to the Russian cosmonauts staying on the ISS for longer.

She said: “I have a hard time believing they’ll be able to design, build, and deploy a space station in that time frame only because it’s very difficult and their military industry seems to be focused on other things at the moment.  

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“I do think it’s possible that they stick with the ISS for as long as they don’t have their own viable option.”

The ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2031, only three years after Russia’s planned departure. 

This suggests that in the event of delays surrounding the construction of the Russian space station, Roscosmos could be forced to stay on the ISS for the entirety of its lifespan. 

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