‘That’s just Dmitry’: Nasa plays down threat to ISS amid Ukraine war – The Guardian

Head of Russian space agency has made provocative comments about ending cooperation with US but missions are proceeding
The Nasa administrator, Bill Nelson, has played down hostile comments by the head of the Russian space agency, after Russia said it would stop supplying rocket engines to US companies.
“That’s just Dmitry Rogozin,” Nelson told the Associated Press. “He spouts off every now and then. But at the end of the day, he’s worked with us.
“The other people that work in the Russian civilian space program, they’re professional. They don’t miss a beat with us, American astronauts and American mission control.”
The Russian invasion has resulted in canceled launches and broken contracts. Many worry Rogozin is putting decades of work at risk, most notably regarding the International Space Station.
Besides threatening to pull out of the space station and drop it on the US, Europe or elsewhere, Rogozin had the flags of other countries covered on a Soyuz rocket awaiting liftoff with internet satellites.
The launch was called off after the customer, London-based OneWeb, refused Rogozin’s demand that the satellites not be used for military purposes and the British government halt financial backing.
On Thursday, the European Space Agency confirmed that it was indefinitely suspending its ExoMars rover mission with Roscosmos because of the war in Ukraine.
“Despite all of that, up in space, we can have a cooperation with our Russian friends, our colleagues,” Nelson said. “The professional relationship between astronauts and cosmonauts, it hasn’t missed a beat. This is the cooperation we have going on in the civilian space program.”
The US and Russia are the prime operators of the space station, which has been occupied for 21 years. Until SpaceX started launching astronauts in 2020, Americans hitched rides on Russian Soyuz capsules for tens of millions of dollars a seat.
The US and Russian space agencies are still working on a system in which a Russian would launch on a SpaceX capsule beginning this fall and an American would fly on the Soyuz, helping ensure a US and Russian station presence at all times.
The Nasa astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, who on Tuesday broke the US single spaceflight record of 340 days, is due to leave the space station with two Russians onboard a Soyuz capsule for a touchdown in Kazakhstan on 30 March.
Nasa has said Vande Hei’s plans remain unchanged, despite a video in early March allegedly produced by Roscosmos that showed two Russian cosmonauts waving him goodbye. It then showed a mission control team watching a computer-generated video of the Russian segment of the station detaching and floating away.
The video, which includes a Russian song titled Farewell, was shared by the news agency RIA Novosti. Its caption read: “The Roscosmos television studio jokingly demonstrated the possibility of Russia withdrawing from the ISS project – the undocking of the Russian segment of the station, without which the American part of the project cannot exist.”
In a response, the Russian state news agency Tass said, “American astronaut Mark Vande Hei will return to Earth on 30 March onboard the Russian Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft, together with Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov … Roscosmos has never given reason to doubt its reliability as a partner.”
Earlier in May, Rogozin shared a video showing an American flag being removed from a Russian rocket.
“The launchers at Baikonur decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful,” he said.
A retired American astronaut, Scott Kelly, pushed back, tweeting: “Your space program won’t be worth a damn. Maybe you can find a job at McDonald’s if McDonald’s still exists in Russia.”
In a since deleted tweet, Rogozin wrote: “Get off, you moron! The death of the International Space Station will be on your conscience.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report


%d bloggers like this: