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Roscosmos and NASA discuss future of ISS, cooperation plans

The ISS project involves 14 countries

BAIKONUR /Kazakhstan/, March 15. /TASS/. Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin and NASA's Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier have discussed bilateral space cooperation, including the future of the International Space Station (ISS), the Roscosmos press service told TASS on Thursday.

"The conversation took place yesterday. They talked about the future of the ISS and further cooperation plans, pointing out that the NASA and Roscosmos groups continue to work and discuss cooperation and current pressing issues," the press service said.

According to the press service, Roscosmos and NASA "hear and understand" each other as far as the future of the ISS goes, but no final decision has been made yet whether or not to extend its operation as "everything is under consideration."

The ISS project involves 14 countries, including Russia, the US, Canada and Japan. The station’s first module - the Zarya functional cargo block - was put into orbit on November 20, 1998. The project is currently supposed to run until 2024. After that, the ISS may either be de-orbited and dropped into an ocean or divided into separate Russian and US segments. However, its operation period may be extended. The ISS’s predecessor, the Mir space station, operated in orbit for nearly 25 years.

At 22:14 Moscow time (19:14 GMT) on Thursday, Rogozin and Gerstenmaier will watch the launch of the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket, which will deliver the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft to orbit. It will take a new crew - Russia’s Alexei Ovchinin and NASA’s Nick Hague and Christina Koch - to the ISS. The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 04:07 (01:07 GMT) on March 15.