NASA is officially suspending much of its work with Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, but will remain dependant on Roscosmos resources in order to get American astronauts to the International Space Station.
The U.S. space agency is stopping “the majority of its ongoing engagements” with Roscosmos over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea region.
Physicists have long hailed science and exploration as being above nationality and political squabbles. Since the shuttle program was retired in 2011, the federal government has paid Russia to use the Soyuz capsule to ferry American astronauts into space.
While making an appeal for more funding so it can resume manned space flight, NASA says it will "maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station.”
"NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space," NASA said in a statement.
"This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration's for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year,” it said. "With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we're now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017. The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians. It's that simple."
Private space flight companies are critical of NASA spending, saying it costs the space agency two to ten times as much money to accomplish the same task of a commercial tech company.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in March that astronauts are in needs of private space flight companies to get Americans into space.
"I do not want to be reliant on the Russians to get my crews to the International Space Station," Bolden said. "I don't need a Space Launch System and Orion if I can't get my crews to low-Earth orbit. If we continue to depend on the Russians, then everything else is in jeopardy. Commercial crew is the critical need for this nation right now."