NASA director says Russian counterparts have not officially backed out of ISS

NASA says it has not received official word from Russia on plans to stop working on the International Space Station (ISS) after 2024.

The newly appointed head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, made headlines Tuesday when he told Russian President Vladimir Putin it would cease operations on the ISS after 2024.

NASA’s Robyn Gatens, who leads the agency’s ISS operations, told Reuters she “just saw that” on Tuesday morning and there was “nothing official yet” to confirm Roscosmos was pulling out.

Gatens, speaking at a conference in Washington, D.C., told the news outlet that international agreements required Russia to notify them of any such decision.

The previous head of Russia’s space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, said in May that Russia would pull out from the ISS in response to international sanctions placed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

NASA in December announced plans to extend operations of the orbiting space science laboratory through at least 2030, along with partners including Russia.

“As more and more nations are active in space, it’s more important than ever that the United States continues to lead the world in growing international alliances and modeling rules and norms for the peaceful and responsible use of space,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at the time.

The ISS, first initiated in 1998, is a joint operation from Russia, the U.S., Europe, Japan and Canada. Russia is a crucial partner because it supplies thrusters that keep the space station above a certain altitude, while the U.S. gives the ISS power through a grid.

Tensions between Russia and the U.S. have escalated after Putin launched a war on Ukraine in late February.

The U.S. has ramped up military support as the war drags on, recently sending more than a More than five months later, the two countries are still locked in a deadly war, with the U.S. heavily backing Ukraine financially.