The Biden administration wants to extend the life of the International Space Station to 2030, keeping the orbiting laboratory aloft despite mounting tensions with Russia, its main partner on the orbiting laboratory.
The announcement by NASA comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any new sanctions stemming from the growing crisis in Ukraine could lead to “a complete rupture of relations.” And last month, Russia fired a missile that destroyed an inactive weather satellite and created a large field of more than 1,500 pieces of debris that threatened the space station as well as a host of other satellites.
While the act was condemned by the Biden administration, and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called it “reckless and dangerous,” Nelson also said the attack was an act of the Russian military that surprised the Russian space agency.
“They’re probably just as appalled as we are,” Nelson said in an interview with The Post at the time.
Despite those tensions, the White House and NASA want to keep its alliance with its in ternational partners and particularly Russia going on the space station, a relationship that has traditionally been walled off from geopolitical turmoil on Earth.
Earlier this year, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space agency, told CNN that it was committed to the station. “This is a family, where a divorce within a station is not possible,” he said.
In a statement to The Post, Nelson said the station had become a long-standing tool of diplomacy as well as science that needed to be continued. In addition to Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe are partners in the station in what NASA has called “the most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken.”
“The International Space Station is a beacon of peaceful international scientific collaboration and for more than 20 years has returned enormous scientific, educational, and technological developments to benefit humanity,” Nelson said. — The Washington Post