Rogozin Says No to Russian Rocket Engines for Military Launches, Not Sure About ISS to 2024
In a sign of the strained relationships between the United States and Russia over Ukraine, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said today that Russia would not permit the use of its rocket engines for U.S. military launches, questioned whether Russia would support NASA's desire to extend International Space Station (ISS) operations to 2024, and may stop hosting U.S. GPS stations on Russia soil if there is no reciprocity from the United States.
Rogozin is in charge of Russia's space sector and was one of the first Russians sanctioned by the Obama Administration in March because of Russia's activities in Ukraine. He featured prominently is U.S. news articles about the space program over the past week because a judge at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims enjoined payments by the Air Force or United Launch Alliance for Russia's RD-180 engines until the government assured the court that such payments did not violate those sanctions. The government provided those assurances and the injunction was lifted on May 8.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. Rogozin told Interfax that Russia will not permit the use of Russia engines for U.S. military launches. RD-180s are used to power ULA's Atlas V rocket, which is used for many national security space missions. Russian NK-33 rocket engines, redesignated as AJ-26 engines by Aerojet Rocketdyne, which refurbishes them, are used for Orbital Sciences Corporation's Antares rocket and the ban may also apply to those engines, although Orbital currently uses Antares only for cargo launches to the ISS for NASA.
Rogozin made his remarks In a series of tweets and to Russia's Interfax news agency that is cited by Russia Today. In addition to the comments about Russian rocket engines, he said that Russia will think about whether to continue operating the ISS past 2020. NASA announced in January that it is extending operations to 2024, although it had not yet reached agreement with the other ISS partners. In many discussions, NASA officials have indicated that Russia is in agreement with the extension, and it is a matter of getting Europe, Canada and Japan to agree as well. Rogozin's statements call that into doubt. He said Russia currently projects that it needs ISS until 2020 and "We need to understand how much profit we're making by using the station, calculate all the expenses and depending on the results decide what to do next."
As for GPS, Rogozin said Russia is considering halting the operations of 11 U.S. GPS stations in Russia beginning on June 1 if the United States does not reciprocate and allow Russian GLONASS stations on U.S. territory. "We're starting negotiations, which will last for three months. We hope that by the end of summer these talks will bring a solution that will allow our cooperation to be restored on the basis of parity and proportionality."
Russia's request to place GLONASS stations on U.S. territory became controversial late last year, well before the Ukraine situation developed.
Update: A transcript, in Russian, of the press conference at which Rogozin made these remarks and that included Russian space agency head Oleg Ostapensko is available at this website.
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