A month ago, as the crisis over the Crimea ramped up, many people worried about the ramifications of Russia’s actions on operations of the International Space Station (ISS), particularly since NASA and the other partners rely on Russia for transporting crews to and from the outpost. However, those concerns have started to fade, in part because Russia followed through with a launch to the station last week that brought a NASA astronaut and two Russian counterparts to the station, and because the crisis overall has not escalated.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden, who has insisted from the beginning of the crisis that ISS cooperation has not been adversely affected by it, reiterated those beliefs Thursday at a hearing of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee on NASA’s 2015 budget proposal. “I am not aware of any threat” of Russia refusing to transport NASA astronauts to the station, he said in response to a question by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the full committee. “I am comfortable because we talk to the Russians every day, to Roscosmos,” the Russian space agency. “We’re confident that they are just as interested and just as intent on maintaining that partnership as we are.”
That believe is supported by Michael McFaul, who stepped down in February as US ambassador to Russia to return to academia. “I think U.S.-Russia space cooperation would be one of the last areas of cooperation to be interrupted,” he told NBC News in a recent interview. “This cooperation has continued for decades through many ups and downs in US-Russian relations. It is also profitable for Russia.”