The U.S. has not agreed to build a new space station with Russia, despite claims from the Russian space agency's chief that the two sides had agreed to such a project, NASA's top official in Russia told the Moscow Times Tuesday.
Recently appointed Roscosmos head Igor Komarov met his NASA counterpart Charles Bolden for the first time at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, where a special U.S.-Russian year-long mission to the space station was launched.
At a Saturday press conference, Komarov said the two sides had agreed to extend the life of the International Space Station to 2024, and "will be working together on a future space station program," Russia's TASS news agency reported.
But NASA's Sean Fuller, the agency's lead official in Russia, told The Moscow Times that while Bolden and Komarov certainly discussed future opportunities for cooperation, "some of the things said there were taken out of context" and no deal to build a new space station was agreed.
The meeting between the agency heads was informal and discussions focused on how the two sides could optimize their financial and technological resources to make the most of ISS over the next decade, Fuller said.
NASA hopes the space station program can be used as a testbed for new technologies needed to pursue a manned expedition to Mars down the line. Fuller said Roscosmos is now looking to use the space station in a similar way.