The deteriorating US-Russian bilateral relationship has failed to affect the improving rapport between the space agencies of both the countries. US space agency NASA and Russia’s Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos, are pooling their resources and launching new joint projects aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The decision is taken by the both agencies in a bid to make the most of the crucial project while it lasts, Russian and U.S. space officials close to the agencies said.
Amid the Ukraine crisis, the bilateral ties between US and Russia have reached one of their lowest points since the end of the Cold War.
“We have had a strong partnership and we are working to make sure we get full use out of the space station for quite a while,” Sean Fuller, NASA’s director of human spaceflight in Russia said on Thursday.
Analysts say both the space agencies had been an untouched portion of U.S.-Russian cooperation for nearly 20 years. But in the recent past when both the space agencies were struggling to mend their bilateral ties amid the soaring tension over Ukraine and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the political masters were found derailing the work of ISS projects.
The US government ordered NASA to cut off all non-ISS related ties with Roscosmos. The most catastrophic was the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in mid-May, who said that Russia was not interested in accepting a NASA proposal to extend the life of ISS beyond 2020.
The leadership of both NASA and Roscosmos are silent on the issue of ISS extension. But they both are looking forward to make the most out of the time they have left together.
“Each of the partners is working within their government on the issue of extension beyond 2020. From an engineering standpoint, much of the legwork has already been done and ISS could continue on well into the 2020s,” Fuller said.