The space agency of Russia has decided to withdraw from the International Space Station "after 2024". Officials from Roscosmos said, "Of course, we will fulfil all our obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made," the Russian space agency chief said to President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier, cosmonauts displayed flags of Ukrainian areas controlled by Russian forces, to which the US reacted strongly, alleging that Russian astronauts were using the space station to push political narratives. Nasa joined the chorus of American criticism by saying, "It strongly rebukes Russia using the International Space Station for political purposes to support its war against Ukraine, which is fundamentally inconsistent with the station’s primary function among the 15 international participating countries to advance science and develop technology for peaceful purposes."
Even earlier, a Russian and a European astronaut conducted a joint spacewalk to fit a robotic arm on the Russian module Nauka that recently arrived at the flying laboratory.
The relationship between the US and Russia is at an all-time low since Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war in February-end. While the bilateral relations had soured, the cooperation between Nasa and Roscosmos had been continuing in space. In the collaboration so far, the Russian space agency even aided the return of an American astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, on its Soyuz spacecraft, who landed in a Soyuz capsule in Kazakhstan along with Russian Space Agency’s Pyotr Dubrov who had spent the past year in space too, and Anton Shkaplerov.
The Russian space agency had recently gone through a leadership change after Putin replaced his vocal supporter Dimitry Rogozin as the boss of the Russian space agency and appointed Yuri Borisov, a deputy prime minister who was in charge of the weapons industry.
Rogozin was known for sparring with the West when it came to their cooperation on the Space Station. He had in April warned of severing cooperation on the International Space Station, saying that either the donkey will die, or the ISS will die by its own death."
The flying outpost which orbits the Earth every 92 minutes has been a permanent address for humans since the early 1990s. Nearly 110 countries have so far been part of research and experimentation done in zero-gravity on the station that flies at 27576 km/h.
The US had in January this year extended the mission timeline of the Space Station till 2030, continuing the partnership between the European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and Russia's Roscosmos.