Cold War II: NASA breaks contact with Russians


Today, Michael F. O’Brien, NASA’s associate administrator for international and interagency relations, informed his colleagues in an internal memo that the U.S. space agency was taking a stand on Ukraine and would suspend all contact with Russian “entities” with the exception of the International Space Station, SpaceRef reports.

We can’t break ties with the Space Station; we’ve got two astronauts up there now, and the only way to get them down is via a Soyuz spacecraft.

In a blog post last week, NASA  administrator Charlie Bolden bemoans the fact that “the United States has been dependent on the Russians to get our astronauts to the International Space Station” since the retirement of the Space Shuttle, a decision made in 2004.

In his memo, O’Brien tells his NASA colleagues: “Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted.  This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences.  At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted.  In addition, multilateral meetings held outside of Russia that may include Russian participation are not precluded under the present guidance.  If desired, our office will assist in communication with Russian entities regarding this suspension of activities.”

But there’s no Cold War II aboard the Space Station, the Telegraph reports. NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman says that politics won’t board the Soyuz with him in May. “We’re three really good friends climbing into a Soyuz (capsule) to fly into space.”

The cosmonauts and astronauts work on their own experiments but usually meet for a meal every day.

h/t The Atlantic