The International Space Station (ISS) is the largest spacecraft to have ever been put into orbit by mankind.
The construction of the 140 billion dollar orbiting laboratory involved the collaboration of 15 different countries, with the United States and Russia leading the way.
Since the first component of the space station was launched in 1998, the ISS has continued to rely upon international cooperation — specifically between Russia and the U.S. — to remain in operation.
Since the end of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011 — and while the US waits for private companies like SpaceX to develop their capabilities — the US has had to rely on Russian spacecraft to bring astronauts to and from space.
But with growing tensions between Russia and the West over Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, many are now worried that this geopolitical feud will be echoed in space.
Earlier this week, NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden said that so far, NASA and Robocosmos (Russia’s space agency) have had a “cordial working relationship” despite the conflict.
However, Bolden said that if Russia decided to end its cooperation in regards to the ISS, the U.S. would have no choice but to make an “orderly evacuation” of the space station.
According to the Houston Chronicle…
“Bolden acknowledged Wednesday there is no back-up plan to fly the International Space Station if Russia cuts off U.S. access to space.”
Bolden’s comments were made during what the Houston Chronicle describes as a, “tense 10-minute showdown” with John Culberson, the new chairman of the House’s space and science subcommittee.
“You are forcing me into this answer, and I like to give you real answers. I don’t want to try and BS anybody,”
Bolden said after being pushed to respond to Culberson’s concerns about Russia.
Read the original story from the Houston Chronicle.