Fragile Collaboration: Hard not to view Russia’s talk of exiting the International Space Station early as mirroring its current tensions with USA

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April 22, 2021 5:00 AM

More so given Russia has ruled out future collaborations with talk of its national space station. Thus have the ISS’s fissures become an allegory for a fragile international consensus.

More globally-minded leaders have always seen the ISS as a triumph of technology as also an embodiment of cooperation between leading world powers.More globally-minded leaders have always seen the ISS as a triumph of technology as also an embodiment of cooperation between leading world powers. (Representative image)

The International Space Station (ISS) has long been seen as a metaphor for global consensus and cooperation. At 22 years, it has started manifesting signs of age; in March, astronauts had to carry out crucial repaid works; the US—Nasa is one of the five agencies that collaborated for the project—though has been keen on keeping the project afloat at least till 2030. Russia (Roscosmos is another of the five), on the other hand, wishes for an early exit, citing the ISS’s physical condition. As per Science, the Russian deputy prime minister spoke of this last week. His office did try to gloss over the statement, but this is not the first time that Russia has talked of pulling out. It did so in November 2020, too, when a key Russian officer on the ISS project said that Russia should leave and focus on building its own national space station. Bear in mind, if Russia does exit, the remaining four partners in the project will find it hard to sustain the ISS.

More globally-minded leaders have always seen the ISS as a triumph of technology as also an embodiment of cooperation between leading world powers. But, with recent statements of both president Putin of Russia and president Biden of the US casting a Cold War-like pall over relations between the two countries, it is hard not to view Russia’s talk of exit as mirroring these tensions. More so given Russia has ruled out future collaborations with talk of its national space station. Thus have the ISS’s fissures become an allegory for a fragile international consensus.

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