SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk has said that his company will rescue the International Space Station if Russia tries to drop it from orbit after threats by Vladimir Putin’s space chief.
It all started as Dmitry Rogozin decided to play the leverage card after the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, announced new, harsher sanctions on Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
Director’s unhinged Twitter rant
In response to the sanctions, Rogozin tweeted, “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States & Europe?”
It wasn’t long before Elon Musk got involved, replying with the SpaceX logo. While it was all still speculations about the meaning of his response, the icing was sealed on the cake when he responded to two tweets to affirm SpaceX’s involvement in saving the ISS if needed.
February 26, 2022
First, he replied “Yes” to a Twitter user who asked if he meant SpaceX would save the ISS by responding to Rogozin’s tweet with the logo. Then he left a comment which reads “Good thread” on a picture posted by Pete, which shows the SpaceX Dragon replacing the Russian segment in the ISS.
For now, it seems that Elon Musk, the US, and the ISS have a perfect plan to counter the Twitter threats made by the Roscosmos Boss. However, there is no official statement to suggest that Russia will discontinue collaboration with the US and thirteen other countries in work at the ISS.
Russia’s Stake in the ISS
If the significance of Russia in running the ISS isn’t already apparent by the tweets made by the Director of Roscosmos, you should be getting the feel by now.
Russia plays a crucial role in the 15-nation partnership running the ISS, launched over two decades ago. While that may be true, the relationship between Russia and other countries has drastically deteriorated following their invasion of Ukraine.
If that isn’t enough to be worried about, more of the Twitter rants by Rogozin suggest that a breakaway of their section could lead to a 500-ton structure from the ISS crashing on China and India. Also, Russia appears to be out of harm’s way as the ISS doesn’t orbit Russia’s atmosphere.
Here is what the ISS would look like without the Russian Segment attached – in it's place, a Dragon could be docked to provide reboost capability and attitude control. pic.twitter.com/2Zvrotv2Zw— Pete 🚀 🛰 (@Space_Pete) February 25, 2022
NASA tries to deescalate the issue
As of right now, Nada continues to work with Russia, and it seems like the sanctions on Russia don’t affect the everyday operations onboard the ISS.
Although NASA did not directly address Russia, in a public statement, a NASA spokesperson explained, “NASA continues to work with all our international partners, including the State Space Corporation Roscosmos, for the ongoing safe operations of the International Space Station.” He then continued saying, “The new export control measures will continue to allow US-Russia civil space cooperation.”
Future Plans by NASA
The cooperation between NASA and SpaceX has become more assertive in recent years following successful Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, and Starship launches. With SpaceX building these excellent rockets, there seems to have been a shift in the reliance on Russian rockets to send American astronauts to space. Furthermore, with ISS being scheduled to deorbit in 2030, the level of Russia’s involvement in the United States’ space exploration programs will become minimal.