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MOSCOW, April 11. /ITAR-TASS/. The stance of US State Department regarding cooperation of NASA with Russia “has significantly moderated”, deputy head of Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos Sergei Savelyev stated.
"Sanctions were rather of a declarative nature,” said the Roscosmos official. “International projects were not damaged in any way,” he stressed.
The Roscosmos official added that the dialogue with partners from NASA at the level of top management was not suspended. “It is possible to work almost in all fields of cooperation between our agencies,” Savelyev added.
April 3, NASA announced that it suspended cooperation with Russia except within the International Space Station (ISS) program. The agency specified that such a decision was made in connection with Russia’s actions towards Ukraine.
According to a NASA’s memo, “ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity” prompted the agency to halt contacts with Russia. The statement also said that NASA intended to complete own piloted spaceship project as soon as possible and to get rid of “dependence of Russia” in launching American astronauts to the ISS. The agency added that in case of relevant budget funding such a spaceship could be constructed in 2017. If the Congress does not allocate the necessary funds, the USA “would be further transferring millions of dollars to Russia”, NASA stated.
April 4, the US State Department has dismissed reports saying that it had instructed NASA and other agencies to suspend cooperation with Russia.
“I know that there were mistaken statements yesterday that the Department of State called NASA to stop cooperation with Russia. Though I like to make orders to NASA, our department didn’t make such order,” Marie Harf, representative of the Department of State, said.
In addition, the statement about suspending cooperation between NASA and Roscosmos caused criticism from a number of NASA experts. In their point of view, such a decision may negatively impact the national space program and the ISS project.
Six people are on space duty onboard the International Space Station. Together with Mikhail Tyurin, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of Russia, the international crew includes Richard Mastracchio and Steven Swanson of NASA and their Japanese colleague Koichi Wakata.
Partnership within this program is run on equal conditions: one of the station’s key segments is deemed Russian, and the other one – American. Some modules and details were made by European Space Agency, as well as by space agencies of Canada and Japan.
NASA and US-based commercial companies have signed contracts related to the ISS project for billions of dollars. In particular, the long-term agreements provide for usage of Dragon and Cygnus cargo spacecraft for delivering water, foodstuff, equipment and experimental material to the ISS. Recently NASA announced that it planned to prolong the participation in the ISS project until 2024.