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Russia plans to shutter GPS ground stations, block US access to ISS

updated 01:29 pm EDT, Wed May 14, 2014

Demands placement of GLONASS ground stations on US soil

Russia is threatening to shut down American-run GPS stations in the country, in retaliation to the refusal by the United States to allow similar sites to operate in its territory for the competing GLONASS system. The threat comes at the same time as another against NASA's use of the International Space Station, in retaliation to US sanctions.

Deputy Prime Minster of Russia Dmitry Rogozin advised the country will suspend the operation of the ground stations from June 1st, reports RT. The US government has until May 31st to agree to adding GLONASS stations on US territory, though the negotiations could take longer. "We're starting negotiations which will last for three months," advised Rogozin, stating he hopes a solution could be sought by the end of the summer "that will allow our cooperation to be restored on the basis of parity and proportionality." If the talks do not succeed, Rogozin warns the 11 American-run stations will "be permanently terminated" from September 1st.

It is unclear how much this will impact the running of current GPS satellites, nor if it will negatively affect civilian users.

Rogozin also said the Russian government is banning the United States from using Russian-produced rocket engines, ones the US uses to put military satellites into orbit. "Without guarantees that our engines are used for non-military spacecraft launches only, we won't be able to supply them to the US," Rogozin is reported to have said. This also covers routine maintenance to the engines already delivered to the US.

Russia is also denying a request by NASA to keep the ISS operational until 2024, which would prolong its usefulness by four years. At present, NASA pays Russia to send its astronauts to the ISS, something that would be prevented under the measure. As NASA will not have an operational rocket engine of its own before 2020, following the reitrement of Space Shuttle Discovery, it must either rely on private firms such as SpaceX to ferry astronauts or work out some form of agreement with Russia.

The sanctions from the US and other countries stem from the ongoing crisis taking place between the Ukraine and Russia. NASA has previously claimed it would cut off all contact with its counterpart in Russia except for ISS-related communications. According to a statement received by The Verge, NASA has "not received any official notification from the Government of Russia on any changes in our space cooperation at this point."

by MacNN Staff



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