The International Space Station has always been a symbol of cooperationsince the Russian-Ukrainian crisis began to manifest itself strongly, relations between the West and Moscow have gradually weakened, until reaching the rift that today has given back the world in the midst of a new cold war, perhaps even more dramatic than that which ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
The threats made by Roscosmos – the Russian space agency – and in particular by its director Dmitry Rogozin have unfortunately extended the climate of war up to the earth’s orbit, where the ISS has been sailing since 1998. In recent days, the first threats have arrived, with the Russian agency reminding NASA and ESA that engine control is in its hands. Now Rogozin wanted to provoke again by posting one on Twitter world map showing where the space station could fall if the Kremlin decides to take it out of orbit.
Provocations, it was said, and so they should be read. The real danger, say NASA experts, does not exist at the moment, also because formally the relations between Roscosmos, NASA, ESA and the Japanese and Canadian agencies are still active, and the ongoing projects have not been closed (not all, at least) . Perhaps we need to read these threats as propaganda aimed at the Russian population rather than the world externala way to flex your muscles at a time when every detail can make a difference.
Meanwhile, SpaceX has already stated that, in case of need, it will be ready to intervene in support of the ISS, but there should be no imminent risks either for the space station or for the American astronaut. Mark Vande Hei which at the end of the month should return to Earth in the company of two Russian cosmonauts aboard the Russian Soyuz (NOTE: since the beginning of the conflict, the astronaut does not tweet anymore). There were even those who feared the abandonment of the NASA member, a fact that cannot exist as the American space agency could use other means other than Soyuz to get him back home. The repayment plan is continuing on a regular basis for now, all the parties involved say.
There are therefore no concrete risks to date. However, we discovered Dmitry Rogozin’s particular passion for using social media to sow terror, from the map of the possible places on Earth where the ISS could fall (or parts of it) to the images depicting the Russian military intent on removing the US flags and UK from the Soyuz rocket that was supposed to bring the satellites of the OneWeb program into orbit, now terminated prematurely. Not to mention the videos in which the number one of Roscosmos uncomfortable also Tom and Jerry (representing Russia and Ukraine). In short, the tension is tangible, and provocations flow freely on social networks.
The ISS was a symbol of cooperation, it was said at the beginning of the article: it is made up of many modules, each dependent on one another. Thus the USA, Europe, Canada, Japan and Russia also worked in synergy and could not operate individually without the help of the others. Things seem to have changed, and there are already those who are putting their hands forward by hypothesizing a new return date – or at least end of career – for the ISS, definitely before the 2030 agreement.