So Long, Soyuz: Russia Is Leaving the International Space Station
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the Western sanctions that followed, Dmitry Rogozin, former head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, signaled a looming end to the U.S.-Russia space partnership. “If you block cooperation with us,” he tweeted in February, “who will save the ISS [International Space Station] from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” Elon Musk answered that call, replying with the SpaceX logo.
Private vessels can in fact do the job of Russia’s Soyuz rockets. Terrestrial skirmishes no longer have to jeopardize cosmic exploration when companies like SpaceX can take astronauts to the ISS.
That’s why Russia’s August announcement that it will withdraw from the ISS after 2024—though it has since floated 2028 as the departure date—was of little concern. Who needs rides aboard a Russian rocket when a Crew Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket can take astronauts to and from the ISS on autopilot?
Even before Russia’s rocket rattling, Musk, other space industry figures, and U.S. politicians speculated that SpaceX could help replace
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