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Russia to Exit International Space Station ‘After 2024,’ Space Chief Confirms

Alexander Gerst / ESA

Russia will withdraw from the International Space Station (ISS) “after 2024” and build its own orbiting space outpost, the newly appointed chief of state space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday.

"I think that by that time we will start putting together a Russian orbital station," Roscosmos chief Yury Borisov said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling the space program the main "priority."

"Of course, we will fulfill all our obligations to our partners, but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made," Borisov added.

Borisov told Putin that Russia’s space industry is in a "difficult” situation, adding that he would seek "to raise the bar, and, first of all, to provide the Russian economy with the necessary space services," pointing to navigation, communication and data transmission, among other things.

Also on Tuesday, Roscosmos revealed a model of Russia’s orbital station.

Citing an unnamed industry source, Interfax reported that Russia’s new space station would cost $6 billion.

The ISS, which was launched in 1998 by the Russian and U.S. space agencies, has been a rare area of cooperation between Moscow and Washington amid sharply deteriorating relations. 

Earlier this month, NASA announced it was resuming flights to the ISS with Russia.

A senior NASA official on Tuesday said the United States hasn't received "any official word" from Russia on its plans to quit the ISS.

"We haven't received any official word from the partner as to the news today," Robyn Gatens, director of the ISS for NASA, said during a conference on the outpost.

Asked whether she wanted the U.S.-Russia space relationship to end, she replied: "No, absolutely not."

Russia’s decision to withdraw from the ISS comes amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, which sparked several rounds of unprecedented Western sanctions against Moscow.

In April, former Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin threatened to end cooperation with Western partners on the ISS in retaliation to the sanctions.

"The restoration of normal relations between the partners at the International Space Station and other projects is possible only with full and unconditional removal of illegal sanctions," Rogozin said on Twitter. 

Russia first announced its plan to launch its own orbiting outpost last year, citing the ISS' aging infrastructure.

AFP contributed reporting.

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