Russian-made spaceships will no longer carry American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) after a contract between the two nations expires on April 2019, Russia’s top defense and space industry official has announced Friday.
Relations have been strained between Russia and the United States over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Space is a rare area of cooperation, and NASA crews have been sent to the ISS aboard Russian Soyuz capsules since 2011.
“Our obligations under the NASA contract to deliver American astronauts to and from the ISS end with the Soyuz-MS landing in April,” Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov was quoted as saying by Interfax.
Meanwhile, NASA is planning to send a manned test flight to the ISS aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Crew Dragon commercial spacecraft from Florida in April 2019.