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Testifying at a Senate hearing, the agency head said there had been “misleading headlines” regarding the future of Roscosmos on the orbiting laboratory.
“If you read the articles, it says something else of comments that were made by people in Roscosmos,” he told Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
Instead, Nelson suggested the senators look at the relationship in a “historical context,” citing the personal relationship between NASA astronaut Thomas Stafford and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Leonov.
In this photo provided by NASA, Administrator Bill Nelson speaks during his first major address to employees, at the agency’s headquarters in the Mary W. Jackson Building in Washington on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. (Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
“That cooperation in civil space has continued to this day,” he said.
“I see nothing in the very even-keeled, professional relationship between the cosmonauts and astronauts, between Mission Control in Moscow and Houston, in the training of Russian cosmonauts in America and the training of American astronauts in Moscow and Baikonur … I see nothing that has interrupted that professional relationship. No matter how awful Putin is conducting a war with such disastrous results in Ukraine,” Nelson noted.
He doubled down on those comments minutes later, saying NASA sees “every reason that the Russians are going to continue on the space station for the immediate future” and that the agency “personally” hopes they will continue all the way through 2030, when the space station is set to deorbit.
NASA and Russia are already in agreement to continue the space station through 2024.
Nelson’s comments come following weekend reports from Russian state media outlets Tass and RIA Novosti via Bloomberg, that Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin warned Russia would pull out of the ISS over western sanctions.
“The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly,” Bloomberg said Tass and RIA Novosti reported Rogozin as saying in an interview with state TV on Saturday. “I can say this only – in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice.”
Rogozin had previously threatened cooperation over sanctions amidst Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Tass reported on Friday that he said Russia would give its ISS partners a year’s notice of such a decision.
“We should not hustle now declaring our stance and will carry on with our work within the timeframe set by the government, which is until 2024,” he said then. “A decision regarding the ISS future will depend to a great extent on the developing situation both in Russia and around it.”
Fox Weather noted Tuesday that Americans and Russians have continuously lived and worked in space for nearly 22 years.