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Russia and U.S. Boost Space Station Cooperation, Despite Earthly Disputes

Published: June 7, 2014 (Issue # 1814)



  • Fifteen nations are involved in the International Space Station project.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Even as Russian-U.S. bilateral relationship tears at the seams, NASA and the Federal Space Agency, or Roscosmos, are pooling their resources and launching new joint projects aboard the International Space Station, or ISS, in a drive to make the most of the crucial project while it lasts, Russian and U.S. space officials close to the agencies said.

"We have had a strong partnership and we are working to make sure we get full use out of the space station for quite a while," Sean Fuller, NASA's director of human spaceflight in Russia told the St. Petersburg Times on Thursday.

Having been a seemingly unshakable cornerstone of U.S.-Russian cooperation for nearly 20 years, the space partnership has recently been forcefully politicized by its political masters, after the political crisis in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea sparked the iciest standoff Russia and the West have seen since the Cold War. The crisis has so far seen NASA ordered by the U.S. government to cut off all non-ISS related ties with Roscosmos, a Russian attempt to ransom U.S. GPS stations on Russian territory for the right to build its own Glonass monitoring stations in the U.S. and a restriction of aerospace trade between the two nations.

But, perhaps most concerning for NASA and Roscosmos, who have consistently sworn that their relationship has remained sound throughout the political struggle in Eastern Europe, was a bombastic statement by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in mid-May — that Russia was not interested in accepting a NASA proposal to extend the life of ISS beyond 2020.

Although head leadership of both NASA and Roscosmos have remained silent on the issue of ISS extension, both agencies are now looking to make the most out of the time they have left together, regardless of how long that may be. Hot on the heels of a meeting with program directors representing the 15 nations involved in ISS, Fuller said "each of the partners is working within their government" on the issue of extension beyond 2020. From an engineering standpoint, much of the legwork has already been done, and ISS could continue on well into the 2020s, he added.

ISS is an unprecedented human achievement: a permanently manned outpost in space that has facilitated peaceful cooperation between the high-tech and scientific bases of 15 nations, as well as the largest international cooperative project ever undertaken by nations during peacetime.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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