Ten days ago it was the threat of US sanctions that caused extreme jitters for the satellite launch industry and their valuable cargoes. Now it is the Russians who are flexing their space muscle.
Widespread reports on May 13th state that on June 1st Russia would ‘ban’ work on American-controlled satellite Earth Stations on Russian soil. The US facilities are used to help monitor US global positioning satellites (GPS). There are 11 such stations stretching across Russia.
Russia’s deputy PM, Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and defense industries, told journalists that one problem was a reciprical agreement which covered the operation of Russia’s GLONASS GPS craft while above the USA. “We’re starting negotiations which will last for three months. We hope that by the end of summer, these talks will bring a solution that will allow our cooperation to be restored on the basis of parity and proportionality,” Rogozin said, and if agreement could not be reached then the US-owned Earth Stations would “be permanently terminated” from September 1st.
Worse, perhaps, in this rapidly escalating war of words, Rogozin hinted that the US-Russian jointly-operated International Space Station would also be reviewed. “We currently project that we’ll require the ISS until 2020,” he said. “We need to understand how much profit we’re making by using the station, calculate all the expenses and depending on the results decide what to do next.” The USA had expected the International Space Station to be jointly operated until 2024.