Crimean tremor in space: Nasa cuts Russian ties

MUMBAI (TIP): In a grim reminder of the Cold War days, Nasa on Wednesday suspended majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation and the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, because of “Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A statement issued by Nasa, has however, clarified that Nasa and Roscosmos will continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station. The ban covers teleconferences , travel and email exchanges. Russian space officials have been banned from visiting Nasa facilities till the order is in effect.

This order was passed a few days after the second half of the Expedition 39 crew launched to the International Space Station from Russia.With the space shuttle flights ending in July 21, 2011, US astronauts have been training in Russia’s Star City for flights to the space station.

Among those who has been trained at Russia is Indian-American astronaut , Sunita Williams. Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said that if Russia responds by stopping US crew flights to the space station, then he will have no choice but to suspend Orion, Space Launch System and human space flight programme. The statement further said, “Nasa is focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to US soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space.

This has been a top priority of the Obama administration for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human space flight launches -and the jobs they support—back to the US next year.” Meanwhile, Ukraine’s security chiefs said on Thursday that the killing of anti-government protesters in Kiev in February took place ‘under the direct leadership’ of ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

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