Russia shuns US lunar program, as space cooperation under threat
Russia is unlikely to participate in the US-planned lunar orbit station, a Russian official said Monday, marking the likely end of the close collaboration that has existed on the International Space Station (ISS) for two decades.
The proposed new station, called Gateway, "is too US-centered, so to speak," said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, adding that Russia "is unlikely to participate in large scale". "
Rogozin spoke to the 71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC) via video link and explicitly described the ISS as "a truly international project" - it was built by both nations and has been occupied by Russians and Americans since 2000.
Europe, Canada and Japan are also participating in the ISS.
The ISS has avoided the sharp deterioration in political relations between Moscow and Washington as Roscosmos and Nasa run the station hand in hand and American astronauts have been getting there on Russian missiles since 2011.
But the ISS is nearing the end of its life, likely by 2030, and NASA has unilaterally launched a lunar exploration program without prior consultation with Russia and other partners.
The gateway was announced under President Donald Trump as part of plans to return American astronauts to the moon in 2024 - for the first time since 1972 - under a program called Artemis.
NASA claims the project is an international collaboration and is trying to involve other nations after Canada, Japan and Italy signed agreements.
Rogozin, who spoke in remarks translated live, left the chance for future cooperation open.
He said Russia supports the "standardization of interfaces" that could allow Russian vehicles to dock at the station.
"A flight to the moon is associated with a high risk. That is why we need at least two transport systems," he said.
ico / la / bgs / ec
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