As for the International Space Station (ISS), this is an extremely sensitive issue. We were somewhat surprised, if not amused, by the fact that the United States is prepared to reduce cooperation in every area with the Russian Federal Space Agency, except the ISS. Basically the US wants to keep those areas it’s interested in, but it’s ready to take its chances in other areas that are less interesting for them. We also realise that the ISS is quite fragile, both literally and figuratively. This concerns manned space missions and the life of the astronauts, and we’ll therefore proceed extremely pragmatically and will not hamper the operation of the ISS in any way. However, it should be kept in mind that, by creating problems for us, for the Russian industry developing launch vehicles that can fly Russian cosmonauts and US astronauts to the ISS … It is absolutely obvious that this is some kind of logical inconsistency on the part of the United States. The US creates obstacles with regard to launch vehicles and evacuation systems. But at the same time, it believes that the ISS should not be tampered with. Our US colleagues have told us that they would like to extend the ISS’ operation deadline until 2024. But the Russian Federal Space Agency and our colleagues, including the Academy of Sciences and the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects are now ready to make some new long-term strategic proposals linked with the subsequent development of the Russian space programme after 2020. We plan to use the ISS exactly up to 2020.
Speaking of the unhealthy situation around the RD-180 rocket engines, it is very hard to draw a line because the United States is so afraid to cooperate with us on potential dual-purpose projects, and, if you will excuse me, every current spacecraft basically has dual-purpose defence-related and civilian implications, and this also concerns communications, remote sensing satellites and a lot more… Nevertheless, we are listening to the position of our US colleagues. I would like to confirm the statement made by Mr Ostapenko and to say that, indeed, we will proceed from the fact that we can no longer deliver these engines to the United States, and that we can no longer maintain and repair previously shipped engines, unless we receive guarantees that our engines are used only for launching civilian payloads. We need these guarantees. It would be strange if Russian money and brains were used for launching military payloads that would help in various unclear space projects.
As you can see, we are taking cautious steps, and as I said, we have responded with a statement to a statement. But we’ll respond with actions to actions. On the whole, the Military-Industrial Commission, the Government of the Russian Federation and the Russian Federal Space Agency, as well as the concerned departments of the Academy of Sciences, are discussing this issue. We find it very alarming to continue expanding serious high-tech projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States that politicises everything, and which is ready to risk serious issues influencing the interests of all of humankind, and not just the United States. In this context, the Government of the Russian Federation has instructed the Federal Space Agency to expand its cooperation with our partners in the Asia-Pacific Region and to search for viable projects, as regards near-Earth space and deep space exploration with them.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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