Russia to withdraw from International Space Station after 2024

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The International Space Station (pictured)  (PA Media)
The International Space Station (pictured) (PA Media)

Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station after 2024 and focus on building its own station, its space chief has announced.

Yuri Borisov, appointed this month to lead the state space agency Roscosmos, said during a meeting with Vladimir Putin that Russia will fulfill its obligations to its partners before it leaves the project.

“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Mr Borisov said, adding: “I think that by that time we will start forming a Russian orbiting station.”

However, a senior NASA official said that Moscow has not directly told the US it intends to scrap their orbital partnership.

Robyn Gatens, the director of the space station for NASA, said her Russian counterparts have not communicated any such intent, as required by the station’s intergovernmental agreement.

"Nothing official yet," Ms Gatens said at an ISS conference in Washington. "We literally just saw that as well. We haven’t gotten anything official."

The space station is jointly run by the space agencies of Russia, the US, Europe, Japan and Canada.

The first piece was put in orbit in 1998, and the outpost has been continuously inhabited for nearly 22 years. It is used to conduct scientific research in zero gravity and test out equipment for future space journeys.

It typically has a crew of seven who spend months at a time aboard the station as it orbits about 250 miles from Earth. Three Russians, three Americans and one Italian are now on board.

The complex, which is about as long as a football field, consists of two main sections, one run by Russia, the other by the US and other countries.

It was not immediately clear what will be done to the Russian side of the complex to continue safely operating the space station once Moscow pulls out.

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