Russia will pull out of the International Space Station, a US-Russian venture, after 2024 to focus on building its own orbiting outpost, the country's newly appointed space chief has said.
Despite rising tension between the West and Russia over the Kremlin's war in Ukraine, Nasa and Roscosmos made a deal earlier this month for astronauts to continue riding Russian rockets, and for Russian cosmonauts to catch lifts to the International Space Station with SpaceX this autumn.
But the head of the state-controlled space corporation Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, confirmed in a meeting with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, that it will quit the project.
Russia will fulfil its obligations to other partners at the International Space Station it leaves, he said.
“The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made,” Mr Borisov confirmed.
Under the current agreement, the space station always has at least one American and one Russian on board to keep both sides of the orbiting outpost running smoothly, according to Nasa and Russian officials.
The swap this autumn had long been in the works and was finalised despite frictions over Ukraine in a sign of continuing Russia-US cooperation in space.
Despite the turmoil on Earth, the space station's seven residents have repeatedly stressed that they're getting along fine up there, as have the flight control teams in Houston and Moscow. The current crew includes three Americans, three Russians and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
After Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, Europe pulled out of its collaboration with Russia on a mission to Mars.
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