U.S. Russia Space Cooperation in Question

World Today

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is having an impact beyond the borders of the former Soviet republic. It’s also being felt out in space. The long-standing cooperation between the U.S. and Russia on the aerospace front is a bit up in the air because of the recent tensions between the two countries.

The subject came up during this week’s Space Symposium in the state of U.S. state of Colorado. CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

U.S. Russia Space Cooperation in Question

U.S. Russia Space Cooperation in Question

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine is having an impact well beyond the borders of the former Soviet republic. It's also being felt out in space. The long-standing cooperation between the U.S. and Russia on the aerospace front is a bit up in the air because of the recent tensions between the two countries. The subject came up during this week's Space Symposium in the state of U.S. state of Colorado. CCTV's Hendrik Sybrandy reports.
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They may no longer be the world’s two superpowers but Russia remains America’s equal and its partner up in space. It’s been that way for years.

Brendan Curry of the non-profit, educational Space Foundation says: “When the whole Ukraine thing broke this is one of the first things I thought of but I’m a space nerd right.”

Brendan Curry closely follows the Russian RD-180 engine. It’s what propels the American Atlas 5 rocket, and an engine one top Russian official recently suggested should no longer be made available to help launch U.S. national security satellites.

Curry says: “It was more kind of bluster than anything else. The United States is the only customer for the RD-180. It’s not like they have other customers they can sell that rocket to if they stop selling to us.”

Between that rocket and the International Space Station, which the U.S. and Russia help run, the two countries are pretty intertwined when it comes to aerospace. So when the U.S. levied sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, projects like this became a little more complicated.

That same Russian official also warned his country could stop cooperating with Americans on the space station after 2020.

Leroy Chiao, Former U.S. Astronaut, says: “I’m not surprised they’ve reacted this way but between now and 2020 is quite a long time so there’s plenty of time for things to kind of settle down”

He also says while the U.S. pays Russia to get its astronauts to the spacecraft, Russians take great pride in their role in space. “It’s in their interest to continue operating the station as well.”

Meantime, the U.S. needs the RD-180.

Brendan Curry emphasizes: “The fact of the matter is there is no quick and cheap solution to our dependence on that engine.”

At this week’s Space Symposium the talk was of new technology and new business opportunities. The U.S.-Russia spat was in the background. But this issue is on the minds of the space industry and could be for a while.

Brendan Curry tells CCTV reporter: “We’re just going to have to watch how this unfolds.”