ASA and Russia Continue Space Cooperation, Regardless of "Sanctions"

ASA and Russia Continue Space Cooperation, Regardless of “Sanctions”

April 21, 2014 • 8:43PM

In response to widespread criticism in the U.S., and the fact that every other space-faring nation has ignored the Obama Administration’s attempt to halt cooperation with Russia, the National Security Council, which promulgated the sanctions, has apparently had to exempt nearly all space programs with Russia from its suspension of space cooperation. While initially the International Space Station was the only project specifically exempt, due to absolute necessity (it cannot function without both major partners), now NASA scientists have been cleared to attend an international space conference in Moscow this Summer, to continue joint experiments with the Curiosity rover on Mars, and to supply mirrors for the Russian Spektr-RG astronomy satellite.

At this point, only one or two joint science projects are not yet exempt. Although the initial announcement of the suspension of cooperation was advertised as affecting a “majority” of joint projects, Russian analysts estimate less than 20% of the joint activity has been halted. As space analyst Jim Oberg observed after the sanctions were announced:

“Outer space is a severe punisher of foolishness and pretense and posturing, and people who operate there all understand this.”

That understanding was expressed most recently by former cosmonaut, Yuri Lonchakov, recently appointed head of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, where astronauts from all of the space station partners do their training before launching to the station on a Russian Soyuz. In an interview with Russia-24 television on April 18, Lonchakov described the relationships of the crew members from all countries, saying,

“I have been flying with these guys, with the Americans and the Europeans, my friends have been flying, as well. I can say for sure that we have always worked together for the good of Earth, and will keep on working in the future. So these recent statements are wrong. Our collegaues in the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Japan have also confirmed their readiness to continue joint projects.”

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