The last bastion of U.S.-Russian cooperation sits 230 miles above Earth's surface, but rising tensions might now be putting an end to the teamwork at the International Space Station. (Via NASA)
It's all retaliation for American and European sanctions that have cut deep into Russia's economy. And, in fact, Russia is threatening to hurt U.S. space efforts in a few different ways.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tells press Russia would reject a U.S. request to continue using the ISS through 2024, four years after the 2020 date set now. He would also bar the sale of Russian rockets used for U.S. space missions and would shut down American GPS sites operating in Russia that help navigate satellites. (Via RT)
But on those GPS sites, Russia has a separate ultimatum. Rogozin wants satellite-guiding Russian GPS units on American soil and is willing to cut a deal. (Via NASA)
As for the rockets, the U.S. currently uses Russian-made equipment. And since America stopped the sale of high-grade space and air technology to Russia, Russia's returning the favor.
Thanks to the demise of the American shuttle system, the U.S. relies on Russia to get a lift to the space station. Uncle Sam pays about $70 million per seat for the trip. (Via NASA)
Fortunately for the U.S., the growth of private American space companies, like SpaceX, could soon take up that job, though they might not be ready by 2020.
Of course, there's also the issue of whether Russia's really serious about this threat. Russia profits nicely off of space cooperation with the U.S., and NASA itself isn't totally sure where all this is coming from.
It said in a statement: "Space cooperation has been a hallmark of US-Russia relations, including during the height of the Cold War. ... We have not received any official notification from the Government of Russia on any changes in our space cooperation at this point." (Via NASA)