Despite his condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in Ottawa on Tuesday that he anticipated Americans and Russians to collaborate on the International Space Station (ISS) until it is shut down.
The invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 cast uncertainty on American-Russian space collaboration.
Russian space agency Roscosmos director-general Yuri Borisov shocked NASA by saying in July 2022 that Moscow wanted to leave the joint venture for the space station “after 2024.” A day later, NASA said that Roscosmos intended to keep the collaboration going.
Nelson emphasized the history of American and Soviet cooperation in space during the Cold War and said he expected it to continue despite the conflict in Ukraine. Nelson was in Ottawa to help promote the Artemis II space mission, which includes a Canadian astronaut.
Nelson told Reuters in an interview that “we are completely at odds with President Putin's aggression” that is “slaughtering people and invading an autonomous sovereign country.”
However, the cooperation between astronauts and cosmonauts on board the ISS “continues in a highly professional way without a hitch. And I anticipate it to last right up to the end of the decade, when we'll de-orbit the space station.
According to NASA's estimates, the ISS will start to deorbit in January 2031.
The International Space Station (ISS) was launched in 1998, and under a U.S.-Russian cooperation that also includes Canada, Japan, and 11 European nations, it has been continuously manned since November 2000.
After the Soviet Union's fall and the Cold War enmity that sparked the first U.S.-Soviet space race, a foreign policy drive to restore ties between the two countries gave rise to the space station.
As ties between Washington and Moscow reached a new post-Cold War low after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the ISS agreement, which has seen several stresses over the years, stood as one of the final connections of civil collaboration.