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Ukraine crisis: Russian retaliation to economic sanctions could end International Space Station though NASA remains sanguine

7 Mar 2014, 11:26 UTC
Ukraine crisis: Russian retaliation to economic sanctions could end International Space Station though NASA remains sanguine
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Russia’s military and political advances in the Crimean region of Ukraine, following similar fanning of separatism in parts of Georgia in 2008, has re-awakened Cold War fears. A cycle of sanctions against Russia and its retaliation to such action could seriously affect the space industry.
For now it seems likely that economic and diplomatic sanctions will be imposed against Russia, although there is some haggling to be done as to what their severity will be. Some nations are fearful of Russian retaliatory measures, including the possibility that it might cut oil and gas supplies to Western European nations such as Germany. Russia’s retaliatory moves might also include ones that seriously affect international space operations.
Access to the International Space Station is at risk
Russia remains vital to the continued operation of the International Space Station (ISS). The Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, with its mission control centre in Korolev, near Moscow, controls parts of the space station. Russia’s Soyuz launch vehicles and spacecraft are, at present, the only way of transporting astronaut crews to and from the ISS. This situation has existed since the Space Shuttle was retired, and NASA’s commercial crew transportation replacements will not be ready until 2017 ...

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