Russia reverses threats to pull out of space programme early

Russia will continue to participate in the International Space Station programme until 2028, the head of the State Space Corporation has confirmed. Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov made the announcement during a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The announcement is confirmation that the space agency has, as teased in February, reversed its stated intent of last year, which would have seen Russia pull out of the international project after 2024 to focus on creating its own space station.

Mr Borisov said: “By the decision of the government, the operation of the International Space Station has been extended until 2028.”

The Roscosmos chief is understood to have been referring specifically to the Russian sections of the orbiting laboratory — which include six modules including the storage module Zarya (literally: “Dawn”); service module Zvezda (“Star”), which provides life support; and Rassvet (“First light”), which is used for cargo storage and as a docking port.

Despite Russia’s continued commitment to the International Space Station programme, Mr Borisov went on to add that the “time has come” to consider the construction of a Russian orbital facility.

He told Putin: “Time is running fast and we cannot take a break from manned spaceflight under any circumstances.”

Officially, the international partners behind the International Space Station — the US, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan — are only committed to operate the facility into 2024.

However, NASA officials have said that they expect to continue to run the orbiting laboratory until the year 2030.

It will likely be replaced by a commercial facility in low-Earth orbit, while the US space agency and its partners move on to developing the “Lunar Gateway”.

This station — located in lunar orbit — will play a role in the future of the Artemis programme and facilitate exploration of the Moon and beyond.

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The first component of the International Space Station — which has been built up in increments — was launched in 1998.

This time saw a period of increased cooperation between the United States and Russia following the “Space Race” of the Cold War period.

However, following the tensions resulting from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the International Space Station remains one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Russia and the West.

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