The Kremlin said it replaced the head of its space agency, a man who had repeatedly threatened Russia to abandon the International Space Station if sanctions were not lifted.
Former Roscosmos director general Dmitry Rogozin is known for his provocative comments, including threatening nuclear war and telling the United States it would need “brooms” to fly to the space station.
But the Russian space agency and NASA confirmed on Friday that they had signed an agreement to integrate flights to the International Space Station. The deal would allow Russian cosmonauts to fly on US-made spacecraft in exchange for Americans to ride Russia’s Soyuz rocket from September.
Former US astronaut Scott Kelly told CBC News it was the “wrong decision”.
“I’m not a big fan of Russians flying on an American vehicle right now,” he said. “I wasn’t too happy to see that. I think it sends the wrong message. I think it’s bad optics.”
Kelly has flown on the Russian Soyuz and commanded the ISS on three expeditions in the past.
Unless there is no other option, Kelly said, the United States and Russia should not explode together as Russian forces kill civilians and are investigated for crimes of war in Ukraine.
But Kelly said he was happy to see Rogozin removed from office until he was placed in an even more powerful role in the Russian government.
Move not a demotion for Rogozin: Garneau
MP and Canada’s first astronaut in space, Marc Garneau, said media reports indicate that Russian President Vladimir Putin has other plans for Rogozin, one of the president’s allies and a longtime nationalist leader. date.
“It has nothing to do with his performance there and more with Putin wanting him to take on a new role,” Garneau told CBC News.
Russian state media is reporting that the country’s former deputy prime minister, Yuri Borisov, is replacing Rogozin.
The move is the latest in a series of rare developments after ground tension in Ukraine reached new heights as it hit the International Space Station (ISS).
US President Joe Biden announced sanctions for “downgrading” Russia’s space program the same day Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Rogozin responded by asking “who will save the ISS from uncontrolled deorbiting and falling to the United States or Europe?”
Since then, Rogozin has launched a violent war of words online and posted a video showing workers covering the flags of international partners with duct tape on the side of a rocket. In March, Rosmoscos also released a fake video showing Russian cosmonauts abandoning an American astronaut aboard the space station.
Then came a move that angered the world.
Roscosmos posted a pair of photos on the Telegram social media platform on July 4, showing a trio of cosmonauts posing with the self-proclaimed flags of the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic after Russian-backed separatist forces have declared victory in these regions.
Historically, the ISS has been a beacon of international cooperation – and a place meant to be free from politics.
Canada issues rare statement of condemnation
Space agencies in Canada, the United States and Europe have responded with rare statements of condemnation.
The Canadian Space Agency joined NASA a week ago in a rebuke against using the ISS “for political purposes to support its illegal war against Ukraine.”
The European Space Agency then went further and on Tuesday ended its cooperation with Russia in the launch of a rover on Mars.
Garneau said if he had been on the space station when the pictures with the flags were taken, he wouldn’t have been happy.
“Using the International Space Station as a vehicle for political purposes is definitely not a good thing to do,” he said. “You can’t undo it now. It’s done… It’s very unfortunate, because it hurts the only area of international cooperation.”
Garneau said he thinks the three cosmonauts “got their marching orders” – possibly from Rogozin or higher and “had to.”
He said Canada should be open to the possibility of Russia abandoning the International Space Station because Moscow is so unpredictable.
“I think you always have to have your eyes peeled,” Garneau said. “The ball is in Russia’s court… They are the ones who, I think, are ultimately the only ones who can trigger a rupture.”
Sanctions crush agency development, expert says
Pavel Luzin, a Russian space policy expert, said the ISS can survive without Russia and international partners should cut ties.
“Western partners should seriously think about whether or not they want to continue to be partners with Russia.”
NASA wants the space station to continue operating until 2030, but Russia has so far only committed to 2024.
Jill Stewart is an academic at the London School of Economics, specializing in the politics, ethics and laws of space exploration. She said all countries use space activity to some degree to push propaganda and nationalism, but Russia is using the space station to try to change the narrative.
“They seek to control and push the boundaries of what the partners aboard the International Space Station are willing to tolerate,” she said.
Russia has been one of the biggest space station partners for the past three decades. For most of that time, buying a seat on Russia’s Soyuz rocket was one of the only ways to get ahead, which now costs up to $90 million per seat. But that changes with Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch in the US
The three Russian cosmonauts involved in the propaganda flew to the ISS alone in March, marking the first time in 22 years that an all-Russian crew has flown to the ISS without astronauts from other countries.
NASA says the new agreement to integrate spaceflight “ensures that there are properly trained crew members aboard the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks.”
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Post expires at 10:49am on Thursday July 21st, 2022