Moscow : Russia to quit the international space station ' after 2024 '.

Russia said on Tuesday it was leaving the International Space Station ''after 2024,'' amid tensions with the West, in a move analysts warned could lead to a halt of manned flights.

The confirmation of the long-mooted move comes as ties unravel between the Kremlin and the West over Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine and several rounds of devastating sanctions against Russia's, including its space sector.

Space experts said the departure from the International Space Station would seriously affect the country's space sector and deal a major blow to the programme of manned flights, a major source of Russian pride.

''Of course we will fulfill all our obligations to our partners but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,'' Yury Borisov, the new head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, told President Vladimir Putin, according to a Kremlin account of their meeting.

''I think that by this time we will start putting together a Russian orbital station,'' Borisov added, calling it the domestic space programme's main ''priority''.

''Good,'' Putin replied.

The ISS is due to be retired after 2014, although US space agency NASA says it can remain operational until 2030.

The ISS was launched in 1998 at a time of hope for US-Russia cooperation following their Space Race competition during the Cold War.

The United State's voiced regret over Russia's announcement and said it was taken by surprise.

''It's an unfortunate development given the critical scientific work performed at the ISS, the valuable professional collaboration our space agencies have had over the years, and especially in light of our renewed agreement  on space-flight cooperation,'' State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

Until now, space exploration has been one of the few areas where cooperation between Russia and the United States and its allies had not been wrecked by tensions over Ukraine and elsewhere. [AFP]


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!