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Washington considers “regrettable” the “surprise” withdrawal of the Russians from the ISS after 2024

“This is a regrettable development, given the essential scientific work carried out on board the ISS, the valuable professional collaboration that our space agencies have maintained over the years, and in particular in view of our renewed agreement to cooperate in spaceflight,” Ned Price said during a press briefing. “From what I understand, their public announcement took us by surprise,” he said.

The director of the ISS at NASA, Robyn Gatens, thus assured in the morning that her agency had received “no official declaration” of the desire of the Russians to leave the ISS, during a conference in Washington. “So we will discuss their plans further,” she added.

The United States wants to extend the ISS until 2030, but the new head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Yuri Borissov, announced on Tuesday that Russia would stop participating in the program “after 2024”.

Asked if the United States wanted to see the Russians withdraw from the ISS, Robyn Gatens replied: “No, absolutely not. They have been good partners, as have all our partners, and we want to continue together, in as a partnership, to operate the Space Station for the decade.”

International cooperation

Russia and the United States had notably announced on July 15 to resume their joint flights to the ISS: two American astronauts will thus fly aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft during two separate missions while two Russian cosmonauts will fly for their part aboard SpaceX rockets, a first.

The Space Station is the result of a huge international collaboration and NASA has repeatedly said that it could not function without the contributions of the various partners.

From 2030, NASA is betting on a transition to commercial stations, whose development it is already helping and whose services it wishes to lease once the ISS is retired.

“The Russians, like us, are thinking about their future” regarding the station, temporized Robyn Gatens. “Just as we’re planning a post-2030 transition to commercial LEO stations, they have a similar project. So they’re thinking about that transition as well.”

Yuri Borissov said on Tuesday that the Russians intended to create a “Russian orbital station”.