makes at least two years what russia threatens to leave of the International Space Station: the extraterrestrial platform that for 25 years has combined the efforts of the five major space agencies on the planet and that, until now, had been one of the largest international collaboration projects in history. In April 2021, spokespersons for the Russian government announced their intention to leave the show because «the station is very outdated.» In July 2022, the Kremlin set the deadline for its withdrawal by 2024. This week, in an unexpected twist to the script, Russia has announced that it will finally stay on board the project until at least 2028.

The news has surprised, and a lot, the international community. Especially since in the last year, after the invasion of Ukraine and the international escalation of tensions, Russia had threatened more than once to ‘sabotage’ the space collaboration programs «in response to the sanctions imposed against our companies.» In February 2022, for example, the director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, probably the withdrawal of all its scientific and technical personnel from the European space base of Kourou, in French Guiana; canceled several joint space missions with NASA and Europe; and even went so far as to threaten to ‘crash’ the international platform against the earth’s surface.

In the past year, Russia has canceled several space collaboration missions and programs

Those responsible for the Russian space program then explained that their plan for the future included launch more independent programs such as, for example, its own mission to Mars and the development of its own space station. This latest project, heralded as the crowning glory of the Russian programme, It should begin to be deployed from 2025 And if all goes according to plan, it will have to be operational in 2035. Rogozin said that the Russian station would mainly serve its own scientific missions but that, if necessary, it could also «fulfill military purposes.» At the moment, according to the Sputnik agency, the design of this project is still ongoing although it is not yet clear how and when it will take off.

The future of the international station

It’s been a long time since all major agencies on board of the International Space Station discuss the future of this project. In recent weeks, as they have announced in unison, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have agreed extend the life of the station until 2030 and, from there, begin to dismantle it. Everything indicated that Russia was not going to participate in the final stretch of this program but, finally, Roscomos has agreed to sign a extension of the 2028 collaboration agreement.

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«Its about largest and most successful international project in the field of space and we are pleased to think that such a unique laboratory can continue its work,» said Yuri Borisov, the new head of the Russian space agency, after announcing Russia’s decision to stay on board the international platform. NASA administrator, Bill Nelson, for his part, expressed his wishes that «the Russians and Americans work together until the station is completely dismantled.»We built this project together and we have to operate it together«, said Nelson when asked about future collaboration plans with Russia in this space project.

«We built this project together and we have to operate it together»

Bill Nelson, NASA

The International Space Station, in fact, began to be designed as an international cooperation project focused, above all, on «smoothing things» between the United States and Russia after decades of unbridled competition for the «conquest» of the Moon and the escalation of Cold War tensions. At this time, after almost 25 years of travel (and controversy), this platform has welcomed 266 astronauts from 20 countries and has become a true symbol of cross-border collaboration.