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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


Russia to undock the International Space Station after 2024

The ISS is due to be retired after 2024, although US space agency NASA says it can remain operational until at least 2030.


Russia has confirmed that it will undock from the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024 amid tensions with the West.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, in a move analysts warned could lead to a halt of Russian-crewed flights.

AFP reports the confirmation of the long-mooted move comes as ties unravel between the Kremlin and the West over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine and several rounds of devastating sanctions against Russia, including its space sector.

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Space experts say Russia’s departure from the International Space Station would seriously affect the country’s space sector and deal a significant blow to its programme of crewed flights, a major source of Russian pride.

Yury Borisov, the new head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, told President Vladimir Putin, according to a Kremlin account of their meeting, while Russia will fulfil its obligations to its partners, the decision to leave ISS after 2024 has been made.

“I think that by this time we will start putting together a Russian orbital station,” Borisov added, calling it the domestic space programme’s main “priority”.

“Good,” Putin replied.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US was taken by surprise by the announcement.

“It’s an unfortunate development given the critical scientific work performed at the ISS, the valuable professional collaboration our space agencies have had over the years.

In a statement to AFP, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said the agency “has not been made aware of decisions from any of the partners, though we are continuing to build future capabilities to assure our major presence in low-Earth orbit”.

The ISS is due to be retired after 2024, although US space agency NASA says it can remain operational until at least 2030.

The ISS was launched in 1998 at a time of hope for US-Russia cooperation following their Space Race competition during the Cold War.

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