Echoing previous comments by agency officials, a key US senator said Tuesday he doesn’t believe that the current crisis involving Ukraine will jeopardize US-Russian relations in space.
“I think you will not see a hitch in the American and the Russian space program that we share with a lot of other nations as well,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) told reporters Tuesday at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida Today reported. Despite Russian efforts to annex Crimea from Ukraine, “I think it’s pretty clear that the cooperation in space will continue,” he said.
Those comments come a day after his office issued a press release stating that NASA officials had been “briefing some members of Congress over the last few days on U.S. plans and options should relations between the two nations deteriorate.” In the same release, though, Nelson indicated he didn’t believe the current crisis would “interfere with important scientific work being done aboard the space station,” while also arguing that it called for a “strong” US space program, including development of commercial crew transportation systems.
Nelson’s comments on US-Russian space relations echo those by NASA officials, who have, since early March, indicated a lack of concern that the crisis would adversely affect ISS operations. “I know the events in Ukraine have been a concern for many people, but things are very harmonious in the program,” said ISS director Sam Scimemi during a panel session on space station research held by the Space Transportation Association on Capitol Hill March 14.