The escalating tensions over Russia’s invasion into Ukraine and subsequent annexation of Crimea have spilled over into America’s space program, leaving NASA wondering: What’s to say President Putin won’t cut off the United States from accessing the International Space Station?
The concern came to light this week, as NASA associate administrator for international and interagency relations Michael O’Brien issued a memo aimed at walking the diplomatic line between Russia’s aggression and America’s disapproval, by suspending space coordination with the nation in as kind a way as possible, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
The memo said: “This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian governmental representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email and teleconferences or videoconferences,” Mr. O’Brien wrote, The Christian Science Monitor said.
But the move doesn’t carry much teeth. The real dilemma is that America can’t get to space without hitching a ride form Russia — and if Mr. Putin chooses, he could cut that cord.
That’s left NASA with some worry, the media outlet reported.
“Is he going to be a rational international leader, or is he going to to go the way of the egomaniac autocrat?” Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island, told the newspaper.