MOSCOW, November 21. /TASS/. The United States will quit the International Space Station project as soon as it has tested its own manned spacecraft, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky said in an interview to the Yandex.Efir video hosting service (Russia’s counterpart of YouTube).
"I am certain that as soon as the Americans have tested their manned spacecraft, they will quit the ISS program," Ryazansky told talk show host Sophie Shevardnadze.
After that, he speculated, the United States will begin to invest in a Moon orbiter.
Ryazansky is skeptical about the prospects for operating the ISS after the Americans quit.
"I believe that for Russia in general this project is a retarder, because our situation with onboard science research is far worse than the one the US counterparts have at the moment, and no intention is in sight to considerably improve it," he said.
Ryazansky believes that Russia with its relatively moderate space budget should focus on some more promising project.
The United States plans to create a satellite of the Moon called Lunar Orbital Gateway, to be used for missions in the Moon’s orbit and as a platform for providing support for works on the Moon’s surface and as a springboard for deep space missions.
Currently negotiations are in progress on the participation of Russia and other countries in this project. Earlier, Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin told TASS in an interview that the corporation would be prepared to participate in the Lunar Orbital Gateway project only on parity terms with NASA.
Since the US closed its space shuttle program in 2011 all flights to the ISS have been made by Russia’s spacecraft of the Soyuz family. The US has long been working on its own spacecraft Crew Dragon and Starliner, but delays in their testing program will most likely force NASA to pay for seats on board the Soyuz spacecraft in 2020.