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Russia To Leave US Space Partnership, Go Its Own Way

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos announced Tuesday that it would detach its modules from the International Space Station when its commitments expire in 2024, abandoning decades of Soviet and Russian work alongside NASA and other international agencies.

In its announcement, Roscosmos’ Science and Technology Council said that its primary goals included creating “advanced space facilities for the operation of a national space station, and implementing deep-space exploration programs.”

There are currently four Russian modules in the International Space Station, with several more on the way. The existing Russian modules will form the core of the proposed independent Russian space station.

Russia has been a key partner, alongside the U.S., in the ISS since its initial launch in 1998. As tensions have grown between the two countries in recent years, space has remained a key venue of cooperation.

In fact, U.S.-Russian partnership is so central in space that NASA officially lists “Runglish” as one of the crew languages for Expedition One, the first-ever manned mission to the ISS. Today’s ISS crews reportedly still use a blend of Russian and English to communicate in their daily work.

In a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation, NASA said that “the space station is providing a unique environment for human health research and space operations that will be necessary for conducting human missions deeper into space and for expanding commercial activity in low-Earth orbit. We welcome continued cooperation from our ISS partners in support of this extension and look forward to working with them on the ISS until at least 2024.”

Roscosmos also said it would “deliberately study the moon using unmanned spacecraft, from lunar orbit and from the surface of Earth’s natural satellite.” Russia now aims to operate manned missions to the moon by 2030.

Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian deputy prime minister who oversees the defense ministry, famously said last year that he supports the creation of a permanent Russian moon colony. In his remarks at the time, he pointed out the moon’s potential as a source of valuable minerals. (RELATED: Russian Economic Crisis Disrupts Daily Life)

Space holds an important place in the Russian cultural imagination. After all, the Soviet Union was the first country to launch a satellite (Sputnik) and put a man in orbit (Yuri Gagarin). Following Roscosmos’ announcement, several zombie-like Twitter accounts resembling Kremlin-controlled “bots” tweeted the Russian-language phrase, “I dream of Russian outer space.”

But some Russians seemed perplexed by the news. On the site of news agency Ekho Moskvy, one commenter remarked: “First, Russia has to survive until 2024.” Another wrote, “Nobody knows what’ll happen in half a year, but they’re already feeding us fairy tales about nine years in the future!”

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