NASA has slammed the Kremlin over its use of ISS-related propaganda following Russian forces' invasion of Ukraine.
On Thursday, the US space agency issued a statement condemning the actions of three Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The Russian cosmonauts on Monday shared photos of themselves holding the flags of two regions of eastern Ukraine that had been captured by Russian military forces.
Furthermore, the cosmonauts called the capture of the regions "a liberation day to celebrate both on Earth and in space."
In response, Nasa said they "strongly rebuke using the International Space Station for political purposes to support [the] war against Ukraine."
Nasa added that the Russian astronauts' actions were "fundamentally inconsistent with the station’s primary function among the 15 international participating countries to advance science and develop technology for peaceful purposes."
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The ISS partnership
Ever since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine, Nasa has tried to maintain its partnership with its Russian counterparts aboard the ISS, per The Washington Post.
"On the station are Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts, and they are all very professional," Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson said on June 15, per Space News.
"The relationship between the mission control in Houston and in Moscow is very professional."
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The Kremlin's threats
Despite Nasa's best efforts at an amicable partnership, the ISS has seemingly become a political toy thing for the Kremlin.
Earlier this year, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin dramatically threatened to drop the ISS onto the US or Europe.
Writing on Twitter, Rogozin boasted to the West that the ISS "does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours".
Space experts quickly debunked his theory, pointing out that the space station routinely skirts past southern regions of Russia.
In another example, Rogozin threatened to quit the space station for good, leaving the fate of many future missions uncertain.
The future of the ISS
Nasa is planning to retire the ISS sometime in 2031 by sending it crashing down into a so-called 'space graveyard' on Earth.
"While the ISS will not last forever, Nasa expects to be able to operate it safely through 2030," an official Nasa report said.
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Instead, the US space agency wants private firms like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezo's Blue Origin to step in and do the work in future.
"The private sector is technically and financially capable of developing and operating commercial low-Earth orbit destinations, with Nasa assistance," said Phil McAlister, Nasa's director of commercial space.
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