The end of the International Space Station is nigh. Although the ISS was supposed to last past 2024, Russia has already announced it will be pulling its support for the space program earlier than expected. But apparently this decision was spurred by President Barack Obama's support for using US sanctions against Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, NASA is designing a new spacecraft that will serve as a lifeboat for the International Space Station. Although a zero gravity brewery that makes beer in space is another design that may hold more interest.
The cost to maintain the International Space Station is roughly $3 billion a year. The original plan for the 15-nation space station was to de-orbit it in 2020, which would have ended its life after 22 years of continuously having humans live in space. But then NASA received the go-ahead from the White House to re-appropriate the funds afforded to de-orbiting to instead extend the lifespan of the ISS for four more years. There's even plans to have astronauts launch from Kennedy Space Center again instead of catching a ride on Russian Soyuz rockets.
Unfortunately, the Ukraine crisis has been slowly coming to a boiling point, with threats being made from both sides. Shortly after the Ukraine crisis started, Russia's nuclear weapons were actually test fired as a show of force, just as Putin blamed President Obama and America for causing the entire situation by interfering in Ukraine. Russian state TV also warned that Russia's nuclear weapons could reduce the United States to "radioactive ash" if the Western allies don't back down.
Some believe that World War 3 unofficially started already based upon the fact that pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine began openly fighting with the Ukrainian military, with helicopters being shot down and allegations of Russian special forces being involved in some attacks. Although Moscow denies it, the United States claims the forces of the Donetsk People's Republic are armed with Russian weapons and uniforms, and some fear that Putin will use a civil war triggered by Ukraine's autonomy vote as an excuse to invade as part of a "peacekeeping" operation. The situation only became worse when eastern Ukraine passed a referendum declaring themselves independent.
Russia deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin went to Twitter to announce that American sanctions imposed on Russia would "boomerang" back at the United States. They say they will be pulling out completely by 2020 and that Russian rocket engines normally shipped to the US would be in jeopardy. Rogozin also said that the Russian segment of the International Space Station "can exist independently of the American one, but the American segment cannot exist on its own without the Russian one." Although NASA says they have not been contacted by Russia about any changes, Rogozin claims the money that used to go to the ISS will instead be put into other unnamed Russian space projects.
[Image via the ESA]