Russia Leaving The International Space Station Because Of Ukraine War

By Doug Norrie | Published

international space station feature

It looks like Russia has made a decision about the International Space Station and it could leave the United States and other groups in the lurch if they follow through. The move is now expected to happen much sooner than originally expected when the two countries began to work in partnership on the platform. According to the most recent reporting, amid continued tensions between Russia and the West having to do with the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Russia has opted to leave the International Space Station for good. And it looks like they will do so well in advance of the original timeline for decommissioning the station.

According to Science Alert and CNN, the Russian chief of the Roscosmos has informed Vladimir Putin that the decision to leave the International Space Station has been made and that it will happen after 2024. This is much sooner than the planned 2030 decommissioning of the ISS. The details of this meeting came via sources within the Kremlin who were reporting after the two had met on Tuesday. And by all accounts, Putin was on board with the decision to leave. This apparently came as a surprise to NASA officials who’ve said that they still haven’t received word from their Russian counterparts about the decision.

While specifics around the reason or reasons for Russia leaving the International Space Station weren’t provided at this time, there had been some ongoing speculation that this was coming. At the outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many thought this was a possibility seeing as how the United States and other countries had imposed massive sanctions on Russia in a coordinated move to decry and hamper the country’s financial and economic viability. It’s led to significant tension on a global scale and has no signs of ebbing in the coming months. There was thought Russia would end the International Space Station partnership sooner than later because of these circumstances.

While the news of Russia planning to leave the International Space Station in 2024 comes as a surprise, there are some who wonder if they will follow through with the plan and how it will affect the country’s space program in general. According to NASA officials, the move would eliminate the possibility for the country to perform space flights as they would have no immediate arrival point in orbit. And others have said getting a new, working, and technologically-sound space station into orbit in that timeframe simply isn’t possible. Because of this, between the broad timeline given and lack of available options, some believe this might be more of a threat than anything else.

According to CNN, this also calls into question an upcoming “seat swap” which was set to have Russians and Americans trade places on upcoming rocket flights to the space station. And in terms of how the International Space Station functions, well that could be problematic as well. The United States side provides the electricity and the Russian side provides the propulsion, so the latter exiting and leaving the ISS would cause major logistical issues. It could possibly necessitate NASA leaving the ISS sooner than planned.