Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put the future of the International Space Station (ISS) in jeopardy.
The ISS, a partnership between Russian and Western nations, could soon end as signals coming from Russian leadership hint at a diminished international role for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, Fox News reported.
According to retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Russian President Vladimir Putin is in the process of “destroying his own space industry.”
"There’s just not a lot of business that’s going to be happening for the Russian space agency in the coming decades because of Putin’s evil war that he’s waging," Virt, a former commander of the ISS, told Fox News.
He accused Putin of overseeing a period of little Russian innovation and funnelling oil and gas profits to enrich his inner circle instead of facilitating space technology companies such as Blue Origin and Space X.
Since the end of the American space shuttle program in 2011, U.S. astronauts have made use of rides on Russian shuttles to the ISS. But in 2020, NASA began a program with SpaceX to travel to the space station and back.
There are currently seven people living on the ISS – four Americans, two Russians and one German.
While day-to-day operations on the space station have not been challenged by the Ukraine war, Virts said that recent statements made by the director general of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin about de-orbiting the station for flying over the U.S. and Europe have put the future of the ISS in doubt.
"NASA continues working with all our international partners, including the State Space Corporation Roscosmos, for the ongoing safe operations of the International Space Station. No changes are planned to the agency’s support for ongoing in orbit and ground station operations,” NASA told Fox News.
In November 2021, the ISS was threatened by a Russian missile test. The test led to the U.S. accusing Russia of militarizing space after a missile test on a satellite forced astronauts to seek shelter while on the space station.