Russia to quit International Space Station after 2024

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The chief of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos confirmed Tuesday that it will leave the International Space Station after 2024 and focus on developing its own orbital outpost.

“Of course, we will fulfill all our obligations to our partners but the decision to leave this station after 2024 has been made,” Yuri Borisov said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin according to a Roscosmos statement.

NASA has already unveiled plans to retire the ISS in 2031 as countries look to build more modern space stations capable of acting as staging posts for future exploration projects or for long-term moon missions.

Despite tensions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both Roscosmos and NASA had signed a deal this year to allow astronauts and cosmonauts to ride together on rocket missions bound for the ISS.

However, Borisov’s predecessor as head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, had also warned that the agency would “reconsider its priorities” and focus on “independence in matters of space.”

Russia and China have already unveiled vague plans for a moon base, while Borisov said Roscosmos would now focus work on its space station initiative set to start around 2024.

The ISS is a joint project between NASA, Roscosmos and space agencies from Europe, Japan and Canada.

Separately, the European Space Agency has canceled a cooperation agreement with Roscosmos on the ExoMars mission aimed at finding out whether there has ever been life on Mars. Instead, the ESA’s member countries will consider an alternative plan at a meeting of space ministers this year.