European Space Agency (ESA) president Jean Jacques Dordain has stated that Russia’s continued role in the development of the International Space Station (ISS) is crucial – as the United States continues to move away from commitments as they move their focus back to the Moon.
The Americans are looking at a maximum of 18 more Shuttle flights to the ISS – most of those bringing US Core elements to join the current structure – forcing other space agencies involved in the ISS to look towards a future without US support.
ESA has committed 650 million euros for the next three years of development, but asked for reassurances that Russia’s Moon ambitions won’t distract them from their commitment to the ISS.
‘The ISS remains one of the most important projects for all the ESA member states and we cannot do without Russia’s participation,’ said Dordain to the RIA-Novosti news agency in Moscow.
Another 300 million euros will be spent by ESA on new technologies relating to space transportation, separate from their Vega and ATV projects – and while the Europeans try to keep on the side of the Russians, member states recently rejected funding to work on the Russian Kliper project.
That, however, may change. ESA hope to change their minds next June.
‘There are a lot of issues connected with Russia’s participation and they will be discussed later, in more detail,’ added Dordain in direct response to a question asking if ESA will revisit options on Russian Crew transports.
‘It is not a question of member states for and member states against. I think the decision could not be taken for reasons that are not linked to Clipper (Kliper) itself. The decision could not be taken because of budgetary restraints.’
The ESA council will also look into working with the Russians on their network of satellite communication project (GLONASS) – an advanced global positioning satellite (GPS) system, which is already being built with two more GLONASS-M elements being launched on December 25.
‘Our talks have been very successful because we can ensure wider cooperation with Russia,’ added Dordain.