What the Russo-Ukrainian War Could Mean for the International Space Station

by: Clarence Jude Tabinas || Photo Credit: Space.com

The whole world was taken aback last February 24, 2022, when Russia deployed its army into Ukraine. This action was not taken lightly by the United States, prompting them to impose sanctions against Russia, which now has the world seeing drastic effects on the global economy. However, the impact of the conflict extends beyond the limits of the planet, as it has also affected space research and explorations. 

The ISS is a multinational project home to astronauts and cosmonauts alike. It allows them to conduct research that is not feasible anywhere else.

Because of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, numerous space-related plans have already been canceled, as such projects require Russia’s full cooperation, which may end as a result of the sanctions imposed by various western countries, including the US.  Although NASA has said that US-Russian collaboration on the International Space Station (ISS), a space station that orbits around the Earth, remains steady, there is no telling what changes it could suffer due to the war. 

Russia plays a vital role in the ISS. It controls critical aspects of the station’s propulsion control system, which helps adjust its position in space. If Russia were to withdraw its cooperation, the absence of these propulsions would cause the ISS to slowly fall towards the Earth. Though the astronauts inside should be able to leave the station safely, the same cannot be guaranteed for the people and buildings on Earth that could get hit by the debris. 

Currently, no one can predict whether or not Russia will cease cooperation with the ISS. While it is certain that NASA and Roscosmos are slowly drifting apart, both still depend on each other for their space explorations. If left to fester, however, years of collaboration between Russia and the US could end and many space-related projects could be severely affected.

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