“This is a family, where you can’t get divorced inside the station,” Dmitry Rogozin told CNN in his first interview with Western media since he became CEO of Roscosmos.
“Either we are working together and sanctions must be lifted immediately, or we will not work together,” Rogozin said in June, according to Russian public media TASS, and Russia will publish its own space station.
Now it seems that Rogozin denies making such threats before the lower house of the Russian parliament.
“I think there is a problem with interpretation,” Rogozin told CNN, speaking in Russian. Maybe I didn’t say that.” His words were translated by an interpreter appointed by CNN.
“We’re just talking about how we can continue our comrades and friendly relations with our American partners, as the United States government implements sanctions against the same organizations that supply the International Space Station.”
Another test of the US-Russian space partnership
It is a relationship that is politically tested and in orbit.
“The equipment does not fail by itself,” Rogozin said. “For 21 years, we haven’t done anything like this. An older generation, who knew how to tie together a complex structure like this, has retired.”
The incident raised questions about the reliability of Roscosmos as a primary partner for NASA on the International Space Station. But now that the 23-tonne Nauka – which adds space for the Russian lab and sleeping quarters – is up and running, Rogozin says it’s a “guarantee” that Russia “has the technical capacity to operate the plant. Until such time as it reaches the end of its life.”
The United States and Russia have been partners in space since the Apollo-Soyuz test project in 1975, when an American Apollo spacecraft docked with a Soviet Soyuz capsule, marking the end of the first space race.
“I think the cooperation with the Russians, which has been around since 1975, will continue,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on August 25.
The United States has attempted to extend this partnership in space to the Moon through NASA’s new Artemis program. But Russia has so far refused to participate.
“For this to happen, we are asking NASA for dignified conditions,” Rogozin said. We do not want to be helpers or servants.” “The prerequisite is equal rights when discussing issues and making joint decisions. That’s what we have today on the International Space Station.”
Relationship with another country as well
Rogozin insists that Russia wants to maintain its partnership in space with the United States. “We respect our partners in the United States,” Rogozin said. “we are friends.”
But in June, Russia also announced plans to build a base on the Moon with the world’s new superpower in space: China.
Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, a senior member of the Commerce, Justice and Science Credit Subcommittee, says actions speak louder than words.
“Russia has sent a clear signal by forming an alliance with China to explore the moon rather than continuing its historic partnership by joining the United States,” Moran said, speaking at the space symposium.
Pressed if Roscosmos was willing to ditch this decades-old partnership with NASA, Rogozin was out of reach.
“We are glad that you are looking at us as a bride trying to deceive a groom and choosing another, but this is not what it seems,” Rogozin said.
Rogozin wants Roscosmos to share space with the United States and China. “If we can’t work with the United States — not because of our fault, and I think that can be changed — but if it doesn’t, in order to divide the responsibility, the risk, the money, we need, of course, another partner,” Rogozin said.
Nelson plans to meet Rogozin, possibly in Russia, later this year.
Asked to respond to Rogozin’s comments, Nelson said: “I look forward to continued cooperation with Roscosmos on the International Space Station until 2030 and into the future.” But Nelson did not address the specific conditions that Rogozin demanded before Russia signed the Artemis program.
At the end of an almost hour-long interview, Rogozin said he had one last “high demand” for the United States to maintain this decades-long experience in space diplomacy.
“America is a great country. As a great nation, it must be kind and loyal. It should provide conditions for its Russian partner, much smaller in terms of the size of its population and the size of its economy. These terms will be worthy of us, we will accept it. The ball is in the hands of NASA, in the hands of the United States now.”
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