Russia to quit the International Space Station after 2024

It plans to build an independent station in low-Earth orbit

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Russia has decided to quit the International Space Station after 2024 and build one of its own, the chief of the Russian space agency has said.

The announcement was made on Tuesday at a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the space agency’s new director-general Yury Borisov, according to Russia’s state-owned news agency Tass.

Operational since 2000, the space station was built by multiple partners, including Russia, Nasa, European Space Agency, Japan’s space agency Jaxa and the Canadian space agency.

The floating science laboratory was always immune to political struggles on the ground, but relations between Roscosmos and the West have soured since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

Mr Borisov said that they will “fulfil all of their obligations to their partners” and will now focus on building the Russian Orbital Station, or ROSS.

“Of course, we will fulfill all our obligations to our partners, but the decision and leaving this station after 2024 have been made,” he said.

Earlier this month, Russia and Nasa announced that highly-anticipated seat-exchange between the two agencies would go ahead, allowing Russian cosmonauts to fly on SpaceX rockets and American astronauts on the Soyuz.

The Russian segment on the station is a vital part of the structure that helps provide thrust, particularly the Russian cargo ship Progress MS-19, which performs reboosting manoeuvres to keep the ISS in place.

However, the US-owned Cygnus spacecraft on the station does have reboost capabilities and it did manage to successfuly reboost the ISS last month.

Mr Borisov said the space agency will also focus on priortising space services that aid the national economy.

These include navigation, communications, data transmission and meteorological information.

"The industry is in a difficult situation, and I see my main task, together with my colleagues, is not to drop, but to raise the bar and, first of all, provide the Russian economy with the necessary space services," he said.

Updated: July 26, 2022, 12:09 PM