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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Russia to withdraw from International Space Station

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei aboard the International Space Station.  (Courtesy of NASA)
Mary Ilyushin Washington Post

Russia on Tuesday announced it will withdraw from the International Space Station project after 2024, signaling an end of an era in one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Russia and the United States.

Russia’s newly appointed head of space agency Roscosmos announced the decision in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, saying that the company will instead focus on building its own orbital station.

“We will fulfill all our obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,” the space agency chief Yury Borisov said.

Russian officials have discussed leaving the project since at least 2021, citing aging equipment and growing safety risks. The countries involved in the ISS agreed to use the station until 2024 and NASA planned to use the station until 2030.

But the ongoing rift between Moscow and Washington over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a barrage of economic restrictions seem to have accelerated the pullout. Last month, the previous head of Roscomos, Dmitry Rogozin, said that talks about Russian involvement after 2024 are possible only if the U.S. sanctions against the Russian space industry and other sectors of economy are lifted.