NASA suspends most engagement with Russia

 

NASA said Wednesday it is suspending most of its engagement with Russia after its invasion and annexation of Crimea, formerly part of Ukraine. 

NASA said, however, it would continue to partner with the Russia's space agency on the International Space Station. 

"Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation," the agency said in a statement. "NASA and Roscosmos will, however, continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station."

The space station is run by a cooperation of international partners, including the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. NASA defines it as the "most politically complex" space program ever. 

In multiple statements last month, NASA had said it did not expect the events in Crimea to affect its partnership with Russia. 

In its latest statement, NASA also took a dig at Congress for failing to fully fund the U.S. space program, which has resulted in a reliance on Russia to taxi U.S. astronauts to the space station for millions of dollars per trip. NASA has relied on the method since it retired its space shuttles in 2011. 

"The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians," it said. "It’s that simple."

NASA said it is "laser focused" on returning human spaceflight to the United States to end "our reliance on Russia to get into space."

If its plan was fully funded, NASA said it could return human spaceflights "and the jobs they support" next year. 

With congressional budget cuts, that timeline has been pushed back to 2017.

"The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America — and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same," NASA said.