The European Space Agency (ESA) hopes that the current political tensions between Russia and the UK over the Skripal case won’t have any negative impact on the agency’s cooperation with Russia. In an interview with Sputnik News, ESA Director-General Jan Woerner said the relations between the ESA and Roscosmos have not been affected so far, and he hopes that the cooperation between the two agencies will continue to grow in future.
Last month, former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious at a public place in Salisbury, England. The UK alleged that the father and the daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent and that the Russian government was responsible for this assassination attempt. Britain also revealed that a rare class of nerve agent novichok was used to poison the Skripals. According to the Independent, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons after conducting an independent probe confirmed that novichok never agent was used in this incident. The UK Police revealed that the toxic substance was put on the door of Mr. Skripal’s home in Salisbury. Russia strongly rejected the allegations, saying it was not behind this attack.
The incident has had ramifications far beyond Salisbury as the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomatic officials. This expulsion prompted a confrontation between the West and Russia as Russia also expelled several western diplomats from its land.
“We are doing space activities and therefore, we try to keep out of all these discussions. I hope that there will be no impact on space,” Jan Woerner said.
“Of course I’m observing that there are some political issues worldwide and it’s very good that with space, we can bridge these earthly problems because we need all these connections.”
Jan Woerner further revealed that the ESA and Roscosmos are currently exploring new opportunities for more joint projects. He said he is satisfied and happy with ESA’s ongoing interaction with Roscosmos and Russia’s Space Research Institute (IKI).
According to Woerner, ESA and Russia are also cooperating on astronaut launch programs. The next launch event is scheduled for the month of June. The launching that will include a German astronaut will take place from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The ESA and Russia are planning to conduct some experiments on the surface of Moon, Woener said. The agencies have already signed a basic agreement and are now ready to move forward on this project.
Woerner is currently visiting Colorado to attend the 34rd Space Symposium. This event focuses on the future of space exploration and is attended by the representatives of the world’s leading space agencies, private space firms, and military/intelligence organizations.