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Russia casts doubt on space station future

Moscow, May 13 (Reuters): Russia cast doubt on the long-term future of the International Space Station, a showcase of post-Cold War cooperation, as it retaliated today against US sanctions over Ukraine.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Moscow would reject a US request to prolong the orbiting station’s use beyond 2020, and bar Washington from using Russian-made rocket engines to launch military satellites.

Moscow took the action, which also included suspending operation of GPS satellite navigation system sites on its territory from June, in response to US plans to deny export licences for high-technology items that could help the Russian military.

“We are very concerned about continuing to develop high-tech projects with such an unreliable partner as the United States, which politicises everything,” Rogozin told a news conference.

Washington wants to keep the $100 billion, 15-nation space station project in use until at least 2024, four years beyond the previous target.

While six years away, the plan to part ways on a project which was supposed to end the “space race” underlines how relations between the former Cold War rivals have deteriorated since Russia annexed Ukraine in March.

Since the end of the US Space Shuttle project, Russian Soyuz spacecraft have been the only way astronauts can get to the space station, whose crews include both Americans and Russians.

At a time when Moscow is struggling to reform its space programme, Rogozin said US plans to deny export licences for some high-technology items were a blow to Russian industry.

 
 
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