NASA Yanks Cooperation With Russia —Sort of
They're kinda our ride to the ISS
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2014 10:04 AM CDT
In this frame grab from video provided by NASA, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, left, ferrying three crew members, approaches the International Space Station, March 27, 2014.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – NASA is cutting off much of its contact and cooperation with Russia—except when it comes to the International Space Station, which NASA relies on Russia to reach. "Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," all contact with Russian representatives are suspended, "unless the activity has been specifically excepted," an administrator told employees in a memo leaked to SpaceRef. Those excepted activities include any bilateral contacts regarding space station operations, and multilateral meetings including other space station partner nations.

NASA is in a tough position. It relies on Russia's Soyuz capsules, but the US has banned China from the ISS for human rights violations, the Christian Science Monitor explains. "If the United States wants to avoid looking extremely hypocritical, this was going to be coming," says one space policy expert. NASA soon issued a statement confirming the memo and saying that it was "laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil." Russia isn't pleased, if this editorial from the state-run RIA Novosti is any indication. "The statement was way too harsh," the director of Russia's Space Policy Institute said.