Nelson, Rogozin Agree to Further Talks

Nelson, Rogozin Agree to Further Talks

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Rogozin, held their first telephone conversation today to discuss future U.S.-Russian space cooperation. Official statements from the two sides offered little detail, but painted a pleasant picture paving the way for future consultations, although Rogozin pointed to two stumbling blocks.

Nelson revealed on Wednesday that he would be meeting with Rogozin, Director General of Russia’s space state corporation Roscosmos, telephonically today.

NASA is eager to confirm that Russia will remain a partner in the International Space Station (ISS). Some Russian officials have been saying Russia will terminate its participation in 2025 when the current agreement ends. Russia’s actions — like the scheduled launch of a new science module next month — suggest it plans to stay, but no extension has been negotiated yet.

In a statement, NASA called the meeting “productive” and Roscosmos similarly sounded a friendly tone.  However, Rogozin also laid out what he views as two stumbling blocks: existing U.S. sanctions on Russian aerospace companies and a lack of official U.S. information about future plans for ISS.

At the same time, the head of Roscosmos put before his interlocutor a number of questions previously initiated by the American side, which significantly complicate interaction. First of all, we are talking about the sanctions imposed by the American administration against the enterprises of the Russian space industry, and the absence in Roscosmos of official information from American partners about plans for the management and further use of the ISS. — Roscosmos

Rogozin himself is under U.S. sanctions because of the role he played in Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Rogozin was Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the defense and aerospace sectors at the time.  The United States has levied a number of sanctions against Russian individuals and entities because of Crimea and other actions taken by the Russian government, most recently on April 15 because of cyber attacks.

As for the lack of official U.S. information on the future of ISS, all the partners — Russia, Europe, Canada, and Japan — are waiting for the United States to formally begin discussions on extending the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA). By law the United States is committed to operating the space station through “at least 2024.” Efforts in Congress to extend that date to 2028 or 2030 have fallen short because a new NASA authorization bill has not made it through the legislative gauntlet.  NASA’s intentions are well known — to transition off ISS to new commercial space facilities built and operated by the private sector where NASA would be just one of many customers — but the timeline remains unclear.

Nelson and Rogozin agreed to resume their talks at the International Astronautical Federation’s Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) later this month. The theme is celebration of the 60th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human in space.

GLEX will take place in-person in St. Petersburg, Russia although some officials, including Nelson, will participate virtually.  He will be on a June 15 panel with Rogozin and space agency leaders from Europe, Canada, Italy, UAE, Norway, South Africa, and Turkey although any bilateral discussions would take place separately and in private. Rogozin already is planning side meetings with various countries to discuss potential cooperation in a Russian-Chinese International Scientific Lunar Station.

The next day, President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a summit in Geneva, Switzerland.  Nelson said on Wednesday that space cooperation may come up at that meeting, too.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.