As Russia going to leave the ISS, is Elon Musk we can trust to be a partner in space with NASA?
Roscosmos, the Russian State Space Corporation’s current CEO Yury Borisov announced during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia will leave the International Space Station after 2024 after fulfilling its obligations to its partners.
Mr. Borisov stated confirming Russia’s departure from ISS, “The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made. I think that by that time we will start forming a Russian orbiting station.” The International Space Station is jointly run by the space agencies of Russia, the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Canada. The space station has a crew of seven astronauts spending living in Earth’s orbit to conduct various scientific research. The space station consists of two main sections, one is run by Russia and the other is by the U.S. and other countries. However, it is not confirmed what will happen to Russia’s part of the space center once Russia pulls out from it. Although experts speculate it is Russia’s attempt at relieving western sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Reportedly NASA has been paying Russia $10 million for per-seat rides to ISS via Russian rockets. Russia generated revenue from its space endeavors but recently NASA is sending its astronomers via Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets. SpaceX has been actively sending its rockets to and from the space station to serve various purposes such as sending Starlink satellites, delivering food to astronauts, and sending complex scientific equipment for conducting research on ISS. SpaceX has also developed reusable launch vehicles using advanced technology and created Falcon 9 rockets whose first stage returned to Earth after deploying the Dragon capsule. It reduced NASA’s cost to send materials to the ISS more efficiently.
Amid this probable departure of Russia from the ISS, Russian cosmonauts will still be boarding the space station. Roscosmos’ Anna Kikina will be boarding SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule on September 1, 2022, to the ISS under NASA’s Crew-5 mission. The ISS will always have one American and one Russian to keep the smooth run of operations as stated in the agreement between NASA and Roscosmos. So, if Russia backs out from the ISS, corporate space agencies like SpaceX can still continue to provide effective services to fulfill the long-term requirements without any hurdles.