Russia on Tuesday announced it would be pulling out of the International Space Station at the end of 2024, bringing an end to "one of the last areas of cooperation between the U.S. and the Kremlin," The Associated Press reports.
The decision will go into effect after Moscow's current commitment expires, notes The New York Times, and has upended the future of the long-running space station, which NASA and others had hoped to continue operating until 2030, AP adds. It's unclear how long the outpost can be kept going without Russia's support, considering the sections run by NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos are "interdependent," per The Washington Post.
"The decision to leave the station after 2024 has been made," Yuri Borisov, head of Roscosmos, told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Tuesday meeting. "I think that by this time we will begin to form the Russian orbital station."
Whether or not Russia has formally communicated the withdrawal plans with NASA and other partners is not clear. But Borisov's comments Tuesday are notably in keeping with previous remarks from Russian space officials, AP and the Times report.
The pronouncement also arrives after Russia and the U.S. on July 15 announced they'd struck a deal under which space travelers from one country could travel to the station aboard rockets from another, the Post writes. But perhaps some of that goodwill was squandered after NASA recently criticized Roscosmos for sharing photographs of Russian astronauts "on the space station holding the flags of Russian-backed separatists in two provinces of Ukraine," the Times summarizes.