NASA is confident that Russia will cooperate in removing the International Space Station from orbit by the end of this decade.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was speaking at a press conference on the first day of the International Astronautical Conference (IAC) in Paris, which runs through September 22.
NASA and Russia are partners in the floating laboratory, with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, which conducts maneuvers aboard the ship using the Progress spacecraft docked there.
The space station is nearing its retirement date after hosting astronauts for more than two decades.
“We are still planning to de-orbit the International Space Station after 2030,” said Mr. Nelson.
However, plans are underway. I have every reason to believe that our Russian partners on the International Space Station will cooperate in this.”
The comments come just two months after Roscosmos appointed Yuri Borisov as its new head.
Former President Dmitry Rogozin several times threatened to end the partnership on the International Space Station.
In 2014, he famously said that NASA could launch astronauts “on a trampoline” after the United States imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea.
After imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Rogozin made several threats, including saying he could abandon the space station in the United States, Europe and India.
NASA and Roscosmos have a sensitive relationship that exists mostly because of the space station.
Roscosmos has announced plans to build an independent terminal.
The geopolitical situation has raised fears that Russia will leave the International Space Station earlier than previously thought.
However, Roscosmos said it would “fulfill all obligations” before leaving.
Mr. Nelson said he had been in contact with Mr. Borisov.
“I spoke to Mr. Borisov. I told him I was looking forward to seeing him at the first opportunity.
Roscosmos is not participating in this year’s IAC. Russian news agency TASS reported that officials “have not received invitations and assistance in obtaining a visa.”
The Chinese space agency – the China National Space Administration – was on the official agenda of the International Aviation Committee and was included as a participant in the Committee of Heads of Space Agencies and the press conference.
Although Chinese officials participate in the IAC, they did not attend the committee or the press conference.
NASA is not allowed to cooperate with China because of the Wolf Amendment — a law passed by the US Congress in 2011 that prevents the agency from working with the Chinese space agency and private companies.
Mr Nelson said the cooperation was “up to China” and that “there must be an opening” on their part “has not been achieved”.
China is rapidly becoming a global space power, having launched missions to the Moon and Mars, and astronauts to its new space station.
“We’ve deconflicted with respect to activities in and around Mars,” said Mr. Nelson.
“But … we see that there is not a lot of transparency regarding the Chinese space program.”
It seems that China is opening its program to some countries.
The United Arab Emirates recently announced that a Chinese lander will bring an Emirati rover to the lunar surface later this decade.
This will be the first cooperation in space between the two countries.
China launches three astronauts to its new space station
Updated: September 18, 2022, 4:59 pm