Russia to only use ISS until 2020
A senior Russian official said Tuesday that Russia will only need the International Space Station (ISS) until 2020, as previous plans by Washington to use it until 2024 were thrown into doubt amid the Ukraine crisis.
"We are planning to only need the ISS until 2020," deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin said, Interfax reported. "After 2020 we would like to use those resources on other promising space projects."
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In January, NASA said the US administration is extending the life of the $100 billion station from 2020 to 2024.
Russia's Roscosmos federal space agency, which has been responsible for all manned spaceflight to the station after the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, was to sign an agreement with the US extending its lifespan by four years.
Rogozin's remarks seemed to throw such prospects into doubt however, as he added that Russia has "some new strategic ideas" for the space industry that will require funds currently spent on resource-heavy manned spaceflight.
At the end of its operation the ISS, which was launched in 1998, will be put in a controlled de-orbit and plunged into the ocean.
In a series of remarks seemingly directed against the United States, Rogozin, who has been blacklisted by the West over his involvement in the Ukraine crisis, said that Russia will also "stop the work of (GPS) stations on Russian territory."
Russia has been lobbying for the right to put its own monitor stations on US territory to improve the work of its satellite positioning system Glonass. However the initiative met opposition in the United States and was delayed.
Rogozin said there were 11 "infrastructure stations" for the US-run Global Positioning System in 10 Russian regions and that their operation will be "put on hold" starting June 1, giving Washington three months to agree to "proportionate cooperation" with Russia, he said.
It was not immediately clear what he was referring to, as no GPS base stations are known to be located in Russia.
Rogozin later said on Twitter that the move "won't affect the signal quality that Russian users are getting" for consumer products like navigation systems.
by Marcello Paternostro with Dario Thuburn in Rome © 2014 AFP
Source : AFP